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Life at the FBI Training Academy

The FBI academy in Quantico, VA is one of the nation's most rigorous and comprehensive law enforcement training facilities. The academy is located on a Marine Corps Base where trainees are expected to reside until either they graduate and become a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or get sent home looking for a new career.

New recuits will undergo nearly 20 weeks (over 800 hours) of extensive instruction and training, which will focus on four main areas: academics, case exercises, firearms training, and operational skills. Let's take a closer look at each of these areas and see what you can expect:

  1. Academics - FBI trainees will spend a great deal of their time reading and studying topics dealing with basic fundamentals of law, ethics, behavioral sciences, report writing, interviewing, investigative techniques, interrogation, and forensics. Cadets will learn how to successfully deal with a wide array of topics ranging from counterintelligence to cyber crimes and even weapons of mass destruction. Be sure to brush up on your study skills since the requirement to pass any of the tests is a minimum of 85%.

  2. Case Exercises - New trainees will undergo a series of simulation exercises to see how they would react in real life situations and mirror what they can expect to experience in the field. The FBI will hire actors to play the roles of criminals and terrororists and the new recruits will be expected to conduct investigations (based on the academic studies), as well as present evidence in a simulated court.

  3. Firearms Training - While FBI agents seldomly resort to using their firearms on the job, they are required to finish the academy as professional marksmen. New agents must be familiar with how to use a pistol, shotgun, submachine gun, and assault rifle, on top of scoring 80% or better on the qualification course. When sufficient firearms training has been conducted, trainees will then participate in drills using simulated firearms training equipment to help agents prepare for making split-second decisions in real-time.

  4. Operational Skills - While participating in the operational training, recruits will become familiar with a variety of on-the-job skills, including defense tactics (grappling, handcuffing, holds, & disarming techniques), safe driving, operation planning, surveillance, undercover operations, and intelligence gathering. Practice exercises may include bank robberies, kidnappings, bomb threats, and hostage situations.

  5. Physical Training - In order to become an FBI special agent, you must be able to withstand the physical and mental demands of the job. For this reason, all agents are required to pass a series of physical fitness tests which include a certain number of sit-ups and push-ups in under a minute, as well as attain certain times for the 300 meter sprint and 1.5 mile timed run. To learn more about the physical fitness requirements, see FBI's physical fitness requirements page.