People interested in law enforcement or international relations may want to consider a career as an NCIS special agent. Some might consider the job requirements for NCIS special agents demanding. However, these strict job requirements help ensure that NCIS agents can successfully protect and defend national security.
In this article, we discuss what NCIS agents are, review the NCIS special agent requirements, and offer advice on how to become an NCIS special agent.
What is an NCIS agent?
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is a special law enforcement agency created by the Navy and Marine Corps. Though their official purpose is to protect the United States Navy and Marine Corps, NCIS agents do not have to be enlisted service members. These law enforcement agents work in several countries and have headquarters in every state in the U.S.
What are NCIS special agent requirements?
The NCIS special agent application process takes between six to nine months. Because the job of an NCIS special agent involves national security, the job process takes longer than usual to accommodate all of the requirements for the role. People interested in working as NCIS special agents should understand the application process beforehand to avoid being surprised by anything asked of them.
Here are eight job requirements for aspiring NCIS special agents:
Applicants to NCIS special agent positions must be citizens of the United States. Both citizens born in the U.S. and naturalized U.S. citizens are eligible. Since special agents handle matters related to national security, the NCIS does not want to hire people who may have conflicting loyalty to another country.
NCIS special agents must be at least 21 years old. Because of the demanding physical requirements for special agents, they also cannot be over the age of 37. However, veterans with preference eligibility, as well as former law enforcement officers covered by the 6C Federal Law Enforcement retirement program, might receive an exception to these age restrictions.
3. Driver’s license
Applicants to the NCIS special agent program must have a valid and unrestricted driver’s license. An unrestricted driver’s license means that there are no limitations on when or where an individual can drive a car. NCIS agents operate a variety of vehicles as part of their job, sometimes including airplanes or helicopters.
NCIS special agent applicants must have correctable 20/20 vision. This means that you must be able to see perfectly naturally or with vision-assistive tools, such as glasses or contacts. You must also see colors normally. NCIS special agents need to see well so they can accurately aim their weapons, examine evidence, and perform other job duties.
5. Background check
All applicants must undergo a thorough background check. The background check includes reviewing your:
credit score and history
As part of the background check, hiring managers also interview a candidate’s friends, family, coworkers, and other acquaintances.
NCIS special agent candidates must take and pass a polygraph test. Polygraphs, also called lie detectors, are tests or machines that monitor and record bodily responses. Examiners typically give polygraph tests while they ask the person being examined a series of questions. The polygraph observes the person’s pulse, blood pressure, sweat levels, and other involuntary responses to determine if the person is answering the questions honestly.
7. Top-secret clearance
Aspiring NCIS special agents must be able to receive and maintain a top-secret security clearance. Security clearance refers to formal recognition by the U.S. government that a person has access to classified information, which is information that could cause damage to national or international security if released publicly. Top Secret is one of the higher tiers of security clearance.
All applicants should understand that they may not get to live in their current residence should they become NCIS special agents. Candidates should be both capable of and willing to move anywhere within the U.S. NCIS may ask some special agents to relocate to a station abroad.
How can I distinguish myself as an NCIS special agent applicant?
Many factors affect the hiring process of NCIS special agent candidates. While there are some job requirements for NCIS special agents that you may not change about yourself, there are some steps that aspiring NCIS special agents can take to become more competitive applicants. Here are four ways to make yourself a favorable candidate for an NCIS special agent position:
1. Consider military experience
Although candidates do not need to have military backgrounds, having military experience may help you attract the attention of NCIS hiring managers. The military can teach people skills that are also valued by NCIS special agents, such as discipline, teamwork, leadership, and initiative. If candidates have been in the military, then they need to submit a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty with their NCIS special agent application.
2. Earn an undergraduate degree
Becoming an NCIS special agent does not require a particular degree or educational background. However, having a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university can help candidates advance in the NCIS special agent application process. Aspiring NCIS special agents may wish to take classes or major in fields of study such as:
3. Gain work experience
NCIS special agents do not need any specific employment background or experience. However, the military gives preference to applicants who have worked in law enforcement, criminal investigations, intelligence analysis, or related fields.
If you want to be an NCIS agent, consider gaining experience first with another law enforcement agency, an intelligence organization, or a government body such as the district attorney. You could also intern at an investigative organization, such as the NCIS’s internship program.
4. Enhance physical fitness
Although the NCIS does not discriminate based on a person’s physical abilities, NCIS special agents execute certain physical tasks to complete their job duties. As part of the hiring process, candidates take tests for running, performing sit-ups, and other physical fitness tests. Aspiring NCIS special agents should improve their physical fitness abilities, such as distance running and sprinting.
I hope you find this article helpful.