Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has used radio and television ads, job fairs, and its Web site to court computer-savvy men and women with multiple college degrees in sciences and languages as part of its emphasis on preventing terrorist attacks, reports USA Today. As of March 21, the FBI was about halfway toward meeting its 2005 goals for hiring agents with computer science, engineering, and other science backgrounds. Karen Gardner, acting chief of the FBI’s new agent training, says 30 engineers, 38 computer science experts, and 28 science specialists were hired. The bureau continues to have difficulty recruiting people who are fluent in Arabic and other languages. By March 21, the FBI had hired only one Arabic speaker.
The FBI Academy, on 547 acres of the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., graduated more than 3,400 new agents graduated from fiscal year 2002 to May 6. Up to 2,000 new agents may be trained in fiscal year 2007 alone. The training is done in 33-year-old decrepit buildings, which are crumbling and have cramped classrooms and stained carpets. Congress has promised to pay for renovations, with $21 million allocated this year. A key part of FBI training is teaching agents the difference between intelligence and evidence, and engraining them with the notion of sharing. Gardner says there have been a few “lopsided” classes with more than the usual numbers of computer scientists and engineers. “We’re asking ourselves, ‘Why are there so many geeks in this class?’ It’s because we’re pushing to meet the (hiring) goals.”