The FBI is a large, modern organization that employs individuals in a range of professions. And, if working for the FBI is a goal, then one question you may have is: does the FBI accept online degrees? This could matter to you if you have discovered the benefits of online education and hope to earn your degree on your computer rather than in a classroom. You’ll be glad to know, then, that the answer to that question is “yes,” FBI hiring managers aren’t concerned with how your degree was earned as long as it was through a reputable program at an accredited college or university.
In this article, we’ll discuss why that’s important, review the FBI’s hiring process, and look at some of the degrees most likely to earn you a job with this vital organization.
How to Find a Respectable Online Degree Program
If you wish to work for the FBI, or anywhere, for that matter, it’s important to find a program at a respected school. In the last few decades, “diploma mills” have cropped up that give out degrees without requiring students to do the work, and employers are suspicious of them, and rightly so.
But for every diploma mill, dozens of colleges or universities offer robust, relevant programs that meet the needs of today’s employers and provide an education that allows students to thrive in today’s business world.
HR managers are increasingly likely to view online degrees positively. A study published in 2018 by Northeastern University, called “Educational Credentials Come of Age,” speaks to this. The survey showed that most hiring managers, 61 percent to be exact, felt that online degrees were as valid or of higher quality than those earned in person. Seventy-one percent had hired someone with an online degree.
To find a respectable program, look at schools accredited by an organization registered with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA. These organizations evaluate colleges and universities regularly, ensuring they adhere to the highest academic credentials and offer well-managed and relevant programs. If you hold a degree from an accredited institution, your FBI recruiter will not be concerned whether it was earned in person or online.
You’ll also want to give preference to nonprofit schools as opposed to those that operate for profit. For-profit schools are primarily meant to earn money for their owners or stockholders. To do this, they may cut corners when it comes to hiring top-notch faculty and supplying students with adequate support services. Nonprofits, on the other hand, exist to serve the common good and channel all their funding back into support for the school itself.
FBI Eligibility and Hiring Process
There are a few requirements that the FBI asks of all applicants. You must be a U.S. citizen in good standing, and with no felony convictions, outstanding child support payments, or unpaid taxes. You’ll need to adhere to the FBI’s drug policy and pass urinalysis and a background investigation.
From an educational standpoint, defaulting on a student loan insured by the U.S. government is not allowed. Most applicants, including FBI special agents, must have a valid four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and a minimum of three years of professional experience.
5 Best Degrees for the FBI
With more than 37,000 employees at hundreds of locations throughout the U.S., there is a broad range of job types that the FBI represents. Most of these jobs call for a bachelor’s degree, but this can be either in-person or online. If you are considering a job in the FBI, the following areas of study are good options to advance your FBI career.
1. Criminal justice
A good point of entry into the FBI is a degree in criminal justice, either at the bachelor’s level or, for more advanced positions, with a master’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you may work as a police officer, sheriff, intelligence analyst, or special agent with the FBI. Eligibility for special agents is reserved for individuals between the ages of 23 and 36, who must have at least two years of full-time professional work experience. Special agents make an average salary of $78K to $153K annually, although supervisory special agents can make up to $170K.
Working as a special agent has perks: agents often travel or work abroad, with an opportunity for international assignments. Relocation benefits are covered, and agents are given three hours of paid time a week to exercise to ensure that they stay fit and healthy.
2. Crime scene investigation
Numerous federal agencies, including the FBI, work with crime scene investigators. Online degrees are available in this growing field at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, with employment opportunities for forensic science technicians projected to grow by 11 percent over the next decade.
Advances in technology have made forensic science an increasingly attractive field for students and hiring managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forensic science technicians with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $61,930 a year. The FBI’s crime scene investigators may work in laboratories or at crime scenes, where they analyze and record information to help determine the crimes that have been committed and possible suspects.
3. Homeland security
In an era of international terrorism, natural disasters, and more, the FBI is increasingly looking for individuals who have training at the bachelor’s and master’s levels in homeland security. In addition to the FBI, specialists in homeland security are often recruited by the Coast Guard, Secret Service, FEMA, Customs and Border Patrol, and other organizations within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The FBI supports the Department of Homeland Security’s mission by addressing threats in its role as the nation’s principal law enforcement agency.
4. Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology is a relatively new branch of science that can lead to a career in counseling or criminal justice as a profiler. A forensic psychology major may work with judges and legal specialists to apply psychological concepts within the criminal justice system. These professionals may spend time in an office or courtroom and earn an average of $72,346 a year with a bachelor’s degree. At the master’s degree level, a person can become a forensic psychologist in some states, earning an average of $81,040 a year. In some states, forensic psychologists need a doctoral degree, but the FBI has positions available at all educational levels.
Few fields are growing as fast in the US. as cybersecurity, which is projected to grow by 35 percent in the next decade. Cybersecurity experts often earn master’s degrees in their field, enabling them to plan and carry out security measures to protect computers and other technology at businesses or other organizations. Cybercrime has exploded across the globe, and the rise in this type of crime has made it a target for investigators with the FBI and other federal agencies.
The average salary for someone with a master’s degree in cybersecurity is $91,000, according to Payscale. The FBI is the leading federal agency investigating cyberattacks, collecting data, working with victims, and leading initiatives designed to unmask cybercriminals in this country and abroad. The FBI has cyber squads in all 56 of the agency’s field offices and also has a rapid-response cyber action team that deploys where needed to address major incidents.