Fight terrorists. Keep white collars clean. Foreign language and computer skills a plus. African-Americans and women encouraged. $40K to train, $50K at start. That’s part of a hypothetical FBI hiring ad. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that if you have a college degree, are between 23 and 36 years old and can meet rigorous standards, you may be hired as an agent.
It’s not a cinch: the 829 agents hired last year were chosen from a pool of about 47,000, about a 1 in 57 chance. To snare critical skills and achieve diversity, the FBI is using newspaper ads, billboards, radio and TV spots and soon even commercials in theaters. “We’ve got a very aggressive national recruitment campaign for the next three months,” said Jan Saylor, the applicant coordinator in St. Louis’ field office.
The goal is to hire 1,300 agents this year – its biggest talent search in many years. After expected retirements, it would bring the ranks to 11,500. The top priority goes to applicants proficient in a foreign language, particularly Arabic, Farsi, Pashtu, Urdu, all dialects of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. The next most coveted skill is computer science or some other information technology.
Saylor said the FBI needs African-Americans and women. “Only 5 percent of our agents are African-Americans, and we should represent the diversity of American public as a whole,” she said. About 18 percent of agents are female.