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How to Become a DEA Agent

DEA Agents Job Description

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agents are an instrumental part of our criminal justice system. DEA agents have the challenging task of implementing controlled substance regulation and laws in the US. The major responsibilities of a DEA agent include:

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  • Dismantling drug trafficking organizations
  • Taking legal action against those involved in drug trafficking
  • Destroying the infrastructure that allow drug trafficking profitable
  • Conducting complex crime investigations
  • Carrying out dangerous yet covert operations against drug dealers

How to Become a DEA Agent

Eligibility Requirements

If you would like to be considered for a job as a DEA agent, you must meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • Excellent physical condition
  • At least 21 years of age, but no older than 36
  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute
    • Preference is given to degrees in criminal justice or police science
    • Degrees in economics, finance, and foreign language also get special consideration

Hiring Process

In order to apply for a DEA agent position, all applicants should attend the Special Agent Applicant Orientation session at one of the Field Division Office locations.A very competitive and rigorous hiring process is carried out for DEA agents.Interested applicants will need to contact the DEA Special Agent Recruitment Coordinator at the DEA office near their location. The following list is the major phases of the DEA agent hiring process:

  • Review of qualifications
  • Written and oral assessmentalong with panel interview
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Medical Examination
  • Urinalysis Drug Test
  • Polygraph Examination
  • Physical Task Test
  • Background Investigation
  • Final Hiring Decision
An applicant needs to complete all the different phases of the hiring process, and stay competitive in order to be considered for employment.

Education and Training


The DEA agent facility is located in Virginia. It is used by FBI and DEA to instruct and train agents. Agents are required to attend courses for around 16 weeks where they acquire the following training:

  • Basic agent training
  • Practical applications
  • Firearms
  • Tactical training
  • Legal training
  • Intelligence training
  • Ethics

Skills and Experience

It is not necessary for DEA agents to have prior law enforcement experience. However, applicants having experience in military or law enforcement may be given preference in employment.  Some critical skills required by DEA agents are mentioned below.

  • Communication Skills: Agents must be able to speak effectivelywhile gatheringinformation about a crime. In addition, they should have good writing skills in order to properly write notes and reports about an incident.

  • Multi-tasking Skills: The demands of a DEA agent’s job may vary on daily basis, but many tasks and paperwork need to be completed on time.

  • Empathy: DEA agents have to understand the points of view of many different people, and they must also have the inclination to help the public.

  • Excellent Judgment: Police and agents need quick thinking and problem solving skills to readily address the problems at hand.

  • Leadership Skills: DEA agents need to be at ease with being a prominent member of their community, as they are needed for assistance in several emergency situations.

  • Strength and Stamina: Officers need to be physically fit to pass the entry test and to keep up with the challenges of their job.

  • Perceptiveness: DEA agents must expect certain reactions from people and understand why people are acting in a certain way.


Working Conditions

The duties carried out by drug enforcement agents are usually hazardous in nature. Drug enforcement officers carry firearms. They also have irregular work hours and may have to work overtime. The job of drug enforcement officers may require relocation several times during the course of their careers. Their work may be quite dangerous and stressful. There is a good chance they will have confrontations with criminals, but they also need to stay alert so that they may effectively handle other threatening situations. Law enforcement officers including DEA agents have to witness death and suffering resulting from accidents and criminal behavior. A career in law enforcement could have a significant impact on the private lives of officers.


DEA Agent Salary

DEA agents fall in the category of Special Agents. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for special officers is $56,980. For more information on how to become a DEA agent and earn a competitive salary, you should contact the Drug Enforcement Agency directly for additional guidance.

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Q:What is the best way to apply for DEA agent jobs?

A:Crime enforcement agencies such as the DEA, or FBI or CIA, rarely advertise positions within in the newspapers or job web-sites. Much recruitment is carried out within or through carefully select sources. A useful web-based resource is: www.justice.gov/dea/careers/ displays current opportunities, but as stated above, the most opportune jobs are advertised internally.

Q:Are DEA careers secure in the long term?

A:For the foreseeable future a career with the DEA is reasonably secure. However recruitment policies are driven in large part by the Federal budget. In the current economic climate, recruitment has been scaled back as part of the government's austerity drive. Once you have entered the DEA there are clear progression routes and he ability to gain further training.

Q:Are there any age or nationality requirements to become a DEA agent?

A:You may only become a DEA agent if you are between 21 and 36 years old and you must be a US citizen. In addition you must have a valid driver's license, are in good physical condition, be able to relocate anywhere in the US; have excellent hearing and vision. You would then need to pass the selection criteria. Speak to your local recruitment office today for further information (http://www.justice.gov/dea/careers/agent/offices.html).

Q:Can you tell me how to become a dea agent with regard to the admission procedure?

A:In order to be eligible to get into a DEA training program, you need to pass some rigorous tests and meet certain requirements. Usually, the main steps of the admission procedure includes a review of your qualifications, a written assessment and panel interview, urine analysis drug test, Physical Task Test (PTT), Polygraph examination, and a psychological assessment. You also need to be between 21 and 36 years of age .

Q:Can you tell me about the skills I need for dea agent careers?

A:To work as a DEA agent, you must have skills. During the training, you will develop the following skills: strength and stamina, communication skills, excellent judgment skills, empathy skills, multi-tasking skills, and more. DEA careers can be demanding in many ways and require individuals to undergo extensive training. Browse through our page for detail.

Q:Can you tell me the most important thing about Becoming a DEA Agent?

A:The most important facet in becoming a DEA agent is the education and training elements of the application process. To be a DEA agent you will be required to have completed at least a high school diploma or an equivalent GED qualification in order to qualify for training. Training will include the use of firearms, and basic training.

Q:Are there any conditions on how to become DEA agent?

A:Before applying to become a DEA agent, you need to fulfill certain conditions to be eligible. You need to be a citizen of the U.S.A and be between 21 and 36 years of age. You also need to give a drug test, a complete background including history of drug use and get registered with the selective service system. For more information on the conditions required to be a special agent visit the official DEA website.

Q:How do you become a DEA agent with regards to the admission requirements?

A:You need to fulfill certain requirements before you become eligible to become a DEA agent. You need to go through basic processes to become an agent starting with the necessary educational requirements which are followed by a written test and interview panel. You then need to give a urinary drug test, a medical checkup, physical task test, polygraph test and psychological evaluation. One complete background check in the end and you become eligible to be a DEA agent.

Q:When researching on how do i become a dea agent, I came across tactical training, can you explain what that is?

A:Well an important part of how you would become a DEA agent is the tactical training. In definition, tactical training is the sort of training required by people working in real-life situations where there is a risk of serious injury or death. In the case of DEA agents, it is positioned more along the use of firearms and self defense training.

Q:What are the admission requirements to become a dea agent?

A:There are no strict admission requirements that you'll need to fulfill in order to be a DEA agent. The first basic requirement is that you need to have completed your high school diploma or an equivalent GED qualification. After that, you will be put through a series of tests that you will have to pass in order to be a DEA agent.

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