While the stereotypes commonly associated with FBI agents and accountants are very different, the reality is that the FBI does employ accountants. In fact, there are a few tracks accounting professionals can consider when pursuing positions with the bureau. They can use their accounting expertise to launch a career as a special agent, a forensic accountant or an accountant professional charged with handling the bureau’s financial business. Is working for the FBI your dream? Here are five tips to help you make it come true.
1. Be Ready
The competition for jobs with the FBI is fierce, so you need to be ready. Begin by visiting the FBI’s website for job seekers to learn what the bureau is looking for in new hires in terms of education, background and experience. Bear in mind that this varies depending on the exact position you hope to achieve. As the time to apply nears, keep an eye on the job boards for appropriate openings. Hiring windows are often short, so it is important that you are prepared to move when the right opportunity appears. Once your application is in, be ready to wait. The application process can take six months or longer.
2. Avoid Mistakes That Would Disqualify You
If you are hoping to eventually work for the FBI, it is vital that you avoid certain missteps because they will automatically disqualify you for any position with the bureau. To protect your career hopes, do not default on your student loans, do anything that will result in a felony conviction or fail to register for the Selective Service System if you are male. The FBI also forbids illegal drug use, and anyone who has used these substances in the last three years is considered ineligible for employment. Failure to pass the drug screening administered by the bureau will also disqualify an applicant.
3. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is an absolute must for those who hope to become special agents, forensic accountants or the FBI’s professional accountants. Without one, you will not be considered for either position. For special agents, a bachelor’s degree in most subjects in acceptable, and an accounting degree is definitely welcome. For those looking for accounting positions, the bachelor’s degree should be either in accounting or include at least 24 semester hours of accounting coursework.
4. Demonstrate Your Abilities by Earning an Accounting Credential
The accounting field offers several credential that can help people demonstrate their proficiency, and having one of these respected credentials on your resume can help you stand out when you are competing for a position with the FBI. While aspiring special agents with accounting backgrounds are not required to be certified public accountants, those who hold the credential may be able to use it to meet part of the experience requirements. When it comes to filling the ranks of its forensic accountants, the bureau prefers to hire people who are certified public accountants, certified fraud examiners, certified internal auditors or certified in financial forensics.
5. Consider an Internship With the FBI
Internships can pave the way for job offers with many organizations, and the FBI is no exception. The bureau has a highly competitive internship program that allows select undergraduate and graduate students to gain invaluable experience while working alongside its employees. Participating in the program is an excellent way to get a better idea of what working for the FBI is really like. Interns are selected based on their academic achievements, experiences, area of study and the bureau’s needs.
Accountants have been an integral part of the FBI since the agency’s founding in 1908, and with the increasing complexity of financial investigations, their skills are still highly valued today. While competition for positions with the bureau is tough, accounting professionals who are ready to demonstrate their competency and drive have an excellent chance of being hired.