How to get a job in the FBI behavioral analysis unit

Written by maureen malone
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How to get a job in the FBI behavioral analysis unit
Agents with BAU assist law enforcement agencies with major crimes. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

FBI agents on the TV series "Criminal Minds" depict the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) assisting local law enforcement through creating psychological profiles. However, BAU also assists with strategies for handling the media and conducting investigations and interviews. The National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) consists of the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program and three Behavioral Analysis Units: counterterrorism and threat assessment, crimes against adults and crimes against children. A career in a Behavioral Analysis Unit gives special agents the opportunity to assist in solving major crimes throughout the country. If you meet the qualifications, two career tracks are available in the FBI BAU.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Bachelor's degree
  • FBI Academy graduation

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  1. 1

    Complete at least three years of full-time work experience as an FBI Special Agent. Most agents assigned to BAU worked as special agents between eight and 10 years. Agents are chosen from all areas of expertise and educational background; however, experience working in violent crimes and an advanced degree in forensic science or behavioural science are preferred.

  2. 2

    Check with your FBI office for job openings in BAU and submit an application, if you meet the stated requirements. Positions are highly competitive and agents are analysed based on their investigative experience, education and interviews.

  3. 3

    Attend the 500-hour training for agents newly assigned to BAU. Agents are also expected to attend a monthly staff development programme, take part in annual conferences and actively pursue other training and education to enhance their careers.

  1. 1

    Contact the FBI to research available positions with the NCAVC. Some support positions available with BAU include intelligence research specialists, crime analysts and major case specialists. Support positions require a strong background in analysis and research with additional qualifications depending on the specific positions. Major case specialists must have investigation experience such as law enforcement. Support staff does not need prior experience as a special agent.

  2. 2

    Submit an application and take the written tests. The tests vary according to position. Applicants passing these tests will get interviewed. Hiring decisions are based on test scores, qualifications and interviews.

  3. 3

    Attend the 500-hour training for new personnel and maintain training through monthly staff development and annual seminars in your area of expertise.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply for a support position if you do not want to spend several years working as an FBI special agent.
  • Positions in BAU are very competitive. To become more qualified, gain experience working in violent crimes such as murder, sexual assault and terrorism and complete as much education as possible.

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