How to Become a DEA Agent

Drug enforcement agents (DEA) are employed through the Drug Enforcement Agency, which is a branch of the US federal government. The role of DEA agents is to control the trafficking of controlled substances and illegal drugs throughout the United States. Working as a DEA agent is dangerous, stressful and challenging, yet rewarding.

After completing the educational requirements to become a DEA agent, the remaining process can be lengthy, often times as long as one full year to complete. If you are interested in becoming a DEA agent, the follow steps will guide you through the process.

Education Requirements

In rare situations a Bachelor’s degree may not be required, however, there is special consideration for applicants who have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher. A Master’s degree, a LL.B (Bachelors of law) or a J.D. degree are also beneficial. It is highly recommended that you also maintain a grade point average of 2.95 or higher. The recommended Bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Criminal Justice degree. The courses required for a criminal justice degree will prepare you for working in a variety of law enforcement fields, including a DEA agent.
  • Police Science degree. Gradates with a police science degree will have learned valuable information regarding the legal system, law enforcement, criminology and criminal justice theory.
  • Other degrees may include Forensic Science, Pharmacology or Psychology.

Although a Criminal Justice degree is the preferred degree for a DEA agent, the other degrees have specialized course relating to drug related fields, which may be accepted by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Additional Qualifications

In order to become a DEA agent, an applicant must be a minimum age of 21, but cannot be older than 36. You must pass an extensive physical, drug and physical task test. If you fail the physical task test, you are permitted to retake the test within 30 days, however, if you do not pass the second time, your application is invalid and you can no longer continue with the application/hiring process.

You will be required to take and pass a psychological assessment and pass a criminal background check. Your record must be clean, without any criminal convictions. There is also a background investigation process that includes your education, personal history, personal references and employment history.

The Hiring Process

Once you have completed all of the perquisites examinations, physical and evaluations, you are required to take a polygraph examination and complete an intense 16 week basic training program. Throughout the training and preparatory program you will receive instruction that focuses on firearm training, arrest techniques, defensive tactics and undercover surveillance. You will also be trained in drug identification and report writing as well as grueling physical fitness program.

As a DEA agent, you will rarely have the option of choosing where to work, because the assignments for DEA agents require transferring to any location that requires the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Working as a DEA agent is a physically demanding and dangerous position, however, it is an extremely rewarding career.

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