What does a Special Agent do?

Special agents are detectives or criminal investigators who work for government agencies to investigate suspected and alleged criminal violations of laws and to determine if the evidence is sufficient to warrant prosecution. Special agents work in the investigation, criminal justice, and homeland security functions. They investigate many forms of illegal activity including kidnapping, bank robbery, cybercrime, and other white-collar crime. They work to enforce the nation’s law and are involved in national security issues and matters and monitor ongoing situations and conduct investigations to look for possible threats.

Special agents protect national borders and are responsible for investigating interstate crimes, international espionage, and potential terrorist threats. They work in undercover assignments to gather evidence, do surveillance and observation, and monitor activity on court-authorized wiretaps. They interview witnesses or suspects to obtain intelligence on illegal activities, and they examine personal, financial, and business records. They serve arrest warrants and take individuals into custody as approved by the court. Special agents need a minimum associate's degree with a concentration in criminal justice.

EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.4 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.4 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Special Agent Salaries

Average Base Pay

$43,889 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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Not enough salaries reported to show distribution
Median: $44K
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Special Agent Career Path

Learn how to become a Special Agent, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Special Agent
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Special Agent Insights

Read what Special Agent professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
I Dial UI Dial U
Oct. 31, 2021

“Lastly salaries are late if you missed an hour you need to contact admins for you get your salaries.”

Zuzick & AssociatesZuzick & Associates
Supervising Agent
Feb. 18, 2020

“Everyday I go to work and have people who genuinely care about my success and have my back.”

BOFA Fraud Tier II Agent Work From Home
Jan. 20, 2021

“I have been with the same project since I have started and advanced with great training.”

Intercruises Shoreside & Port ServicesIntercruises Shoreside & Port Services
Check-in Agent
Mar. 31, 2021

“Training was minimal and was expected to know what to do even when you just started.”

Family First LifeFamily First Life
Life Agent
Mar. 1, 2021

“The pay is fantastic and for me the best part is the people I work with.”

Carnival Cruise LineCarnival Cruise Line
Group Agent
Sep. 3, 2020

“a good wage for anyone that needs a job. the 6 week training is really fun and where you'll make your friends”

US Customs and Border ProtectionUS Customs and Border Protection
U S Border Patrol Agent
Dec. 28, 2020

“I am not an "office person" so enjoy the opportunity to work outdoors and being independent.”

Zach Hart AgencyZach Hart Agency
Jul. 29, 2019

“Amazing place to work with amazing people who keep you motivated to achieve your goals!”

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Special Agent Interviews

Related Careers

Police Officer
25% skills overlap
Security Officer
No skills overlap
Correctional Officer
No skills overlap
Office Manager

Special Agent jobs

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of a special agent

When working as a special agent, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are Graduate Level, Graduate Degree, Top Secret Clearance, General Medical and Investigating.

The most similar professions to special agent are:
  • Police Officer
  • Security Officer
  • Correctional Officer
  • Office Manager

The most common qualifications to become a special agent is a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.