How To Become A Dea Agent

In order to become a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Pass a DEA-administered drug test for illegal drugs
  • Show compliance with the DEA drug policy by completing a DEA Drug Questionnaire and Drug Use Statement
  • Successfully clear a background investigation
  • Be at least 21 years and not more than 36 years of age at the time of appointment

Federal recruitment requirements are very stringent. The hiring process could take 12 months or more and is divided into different phases. The final offer of employment will depend upon the following:

  • Background Investigation
  • Qualifications Review
  • Oral and Written Assessment and Panel Interview
  • Medical Examination
  • Physical Task Test
  • Urinalysis Drug Test
  • Polygraph Examination
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Final Hiring Decision

The minimum educational requirement for this profession is a bachelor's degree in the field of criminal justice, police science, or a related discipline. Degrees in accounting, finance, computer science, telecommunication, foreign languages, and economics are also given special consideration. You could easily enroll in an accredited online program and complete the educational requirements. Online educational programs offer flexible scheduling formats without having to give up other responsibilities.

DEA agents are trained at the DEA Agent facility which is located in Quantico, Virginia. Candidates attending the Basic Agent Training program will take courses for 18 weeks in the following areas:

  • Basic Agent Training
  • Intelligence Training
  • Firearms, Surveillance, Arrest Techniques
  • Ethics
  • Tactical and Legal training
  • Practical Applications

After successfully graduating from this program, you could start working as a DEA agent.

What Do They Do?
The main responsibility of DEA agents is the enforcement of laws and regulations concerning illegal drugs. These agents investigate interstate and international violations of drug laws. These investigations lead them to dismantle drug trafficking rings, seize assets from drug trafficking, and prosecute criminals and gangs. Their work involves collection of evidence, observation of suspects, and preparation of written reports. Drug intelligence information collected by them is analyzed and distributed by the agency and other law enforcement agents. They also work with Interpol, the United Nations, and other organizations. DEA agents administer international drug control programs and design methods that focus on measures such as crop substitution, crop eradication, and training of foreign officials to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in the US.

Employment and Benefits
As cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment in this occupation is expected to grow by 7% from 2010 to 2020. These agents are hired at the GS-7 or GS-9 level, depending upon their education and experience. The starting salary for a GS-7 level is approximately $49,000, and it is around $55,000 for a GS-9 level. Agents can move upto GS-13 level and could earn around $92,000 annually. Under federal laws, these agents are eligible for health insurance, retirement benefits, life insurance, sick leave, annual leave, and paid Federal holidays.


Q:How long does it take to become a dea agent?

A:It can take you 4 to 8 years to become a DEA agent after high school. DEA agents must have a four year bachelor degree along with at least three years of work experience in the field. After application approval, candidates must undergo formal training and complete an 18-week course. This course will help individuals develop physical skills, leadership skills, and gain knowledge about the field.

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