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Becoming an FBI Special Agent: Are You Fit Enough?

If you’ve ever considered becoming a special agent working to defend your country from terrorists, hackers or drug lords, you’re far from alone. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation holds high standards for admission to its academy at Quantico, Virginia, so you’ll need to consider whether you’re up to the task of pursuing a career among law enforcement’s elite.

Beyond having at least a criminal justice bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, applicants must be age 23 to 36 and meet stringent physical requirements in order to be considered for a position. Special agents must be in excellent physical shape, be able to use firearms, participate in raids and execute defensive tactics when needed, according to the FBI website.

In addition to undergoing vision and hearing exams and a medical health review, applicants are given a physical fitness test that requires them to complete as many sit-ups as possible within one minute, sprint 300 meters and then do as many pushups as they can. That’s followed by a timed 1½- mile run.

Applicants can take no more than a five-minute break between each part of the test.

Aspiring agents must pass the test at least three times during the application process. If an applicant fails the test three times, he or she is prohibited from applying for the position again.

If hired, special agents spend the first 20 weeks of their careers at the FBI Academy in Virginia, where they learn about everything from report writing to weapons training, counterterrorism and counterintelligence techniques.

According to an article in The New York Times, the FBI’s current force of roughly 13,500 agents also will be required to complete the fitness test successfully.

Getting Ready to Fight Crime

To help prepare for the fitness test, the FBI recommends applicants complete the following circuit training workout at least once a week:

  • Run for 90 seconds
  • Maximum sit-ups in 30 seconds
  • Run for 90 seconds
  • Maximum continuous push-ups
  • Run for 90 seconds
  • Maximum continuous pull-ups
  • Run for 90 seconds
  • Maximum body weight squats or lunges in 30 seconds

Repeat the circuit three to five times, resting for one minute between repetitions.

In addition, the FBI recommends that applicants: increase muscular strength and endurance by doing sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups a few days a week; build aerobic power through “sustained running” up to five days a week; and boost anaerobic power with sprints of 30 seconds to 90 seconds once or twice weekly.

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