Many FBI agents are struggling to make do on modest government salaries, reports USA Today. Case in point: a 34-year-old agent in the New York City office who lives in a spartan rented room in Franklin Park, N.J., 42 miles south of the city. With a salary of $48,000, $106,000 in student loans to pay off, and credit-card debts near $10,000 — he says it’s all he can afford. “I took an oath when I joined the FBI,” says the four-year-agent, not identified by USA Today. “I never thought it would also include a vow of poverty.”
The newspaper says there are signs that more agents assigned to the bureau’s most critical counterterrorism divisions — New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and San Diego — have debts that officials say could make them vulnerable to corruption, including cash offers to spy against the United States. The situation raises questions about whether the FBI is adequately screening agents’ finances at a time when the bureau is expanding rapidly to try to prevent terrorism. It has led officials to reassess their practice of assigning many of the newest and lowest-paid agents to big-city offices where the cost of living is high — and where agents often handle some of the government’s most sensitive intelligence reports.
The base salary for new agents is about $39,700, plus overtime. Agents in big cities get a few thousand dollars more. With several years’ experience, agents can make a little more than $90,000. Supervisors’ pay ranges from about $72,000 to about $106,000. Aside from minor cost-of-living increases, agent salaries have been roughly the same for more than a decade.