Though there are a variety of career possibilities in the Drug Enforcement Administration, the most exciting is arguably that of a DEA agent. DEA agents are a select group of men and women carefully selected to be groomed into the best drug law enforcement agent in the world.
DEA agents are more often than not of a diverse background and must have proven experience and commitment to undertake the DEA's battle in the war on drugs. However, becoming a DEA agent is also one of the most complex and hard tasks to undertake, for the agency is highly specific on the requirement to even be considered for employment. The basic requirements include any one of these four:
A Bachelor's Degree with a minimum 2.95 GPA or a Masters Degree in any of the following:
Professional experience in narcotics investigations, undercover activities, and evidence organization
Three years or more relative work experience and Special Skils such as:
LL.B or J.D. Degree with experience in prosecution.
A competitive applicant will meet one of the four above criteria as well as these additional requirements:
Between the ages of 21 and 36 at time of application
Valid U.S. Driver's license
"Excellent" Physical condition
Uncorrected vision more than 20/200 in both eyes, corrected to 20/20 in one, and 20/40 in other
Willing to relocate in the United States
Successfully pass a background investigation to obtain Top Secret clearance
In meeting the necessary qualifications, a prospective DEA agent must complete an intense hiring process that may take at least one full year to complete, and all phases must be appropriately completed. A qualifications review ensures that the applicant meets the basic requirement criteria. A written assessment and panel interview is then administered to evaluate basic skills.
A drug test must also be successfully passed. Because it is the Drug Enforcement Administration, all potential DEA agents must not have a history of any kind of illicit drug or controlled substance abuse. In some cases, the adolescent use of marijuana that is not historically abusive in the applicant may be sometimes overlooked.
A medical examination to ensure the DEA agent applicant's health, as well as an intense Physical Task Test, where certain exercises must be correctly done in the allotted time and repetitions. Also, a polygraph examination is also administered to ensure the DEA agent applicant is truthful and honest regarding aspects of his/her past, such as drug or narcotics use. A psychological assessment is conducted to evaluate the DEA agent applicant's health.
The background check is finally administered and a final decision will be made upon the applicant's successful completion of all the aspects of the hiring process. If the applicant is hired, he/she will undergo training at the DEA Training Academy located in Quantico, Virginia. Here, all future DEA agents will begin basic agent training, practical applications training, tactical training, firearms training, legal training, intelligence training, as well as DEA ethics. The training session lasts a total of 16 weeks.
DEA agents are hired on at the GS-7 or GS-9 pay grade levels depending on experience and education. Basic salary can range from just over $35,000 to about $51,000, depending on pay grade levels. DEA agents receive great benefits, including Federal Employees Health Benefits, Federal Employees Retirement System, and a 401(k) type program. Upon being hired, it is a possibility for all DEA agents to progress to the GS-13 pay grade after four years of service, which is close to $100,000. Mobility is a requirement of the job, and thus, a DEA agent may be required to move according to the Agency's need of staff and personnel.