High-tech agents most wanted
FBI seeks applicants with computer skills
By Carol Robinson
Date: August 04, 2003
Andy Young has never really been a cops-and-robbers kind of guy.
The 29-year-old BellSouth computer specialist has held a gun maybe once in his life. He's more apt to get pumped about bytes than taking a bite out of crime.
"I'm pretty much a geek, yeah," Young said.
A geek, perhaps, but the exact type of geek the FBI wants to transform into an special agent.
The FBI is undergoing dramatic changes to meet the country's new challenges following the Sept. 11 tragedies, trying to pre-empt terrorists. To do that, it is seeking agents with what are deemed critical skills, especially in computer technology.
"The people who heretofore never thought they had the background for the FBI now have the very background we're looking for," said Special Agent Craig Dahle, spokesman for the Birmingham division.
Special Agent Kevin Parker, 30, left his lucrative business in computer software earlier this year to take up the shield and gun.
"I kind of wanted to do something a little different," said Parker, whose pastimes included target practice and martial arts. "My hobbies were more in line with the work in the FBI than my career was. They're just coming together now."
Parker is assigned to the FBI's cybercrime unit. "Because of my background with computers, I can make a contribution sooner than I could in other areas."
In 2002, the FBI hired 923 agents and 643 support workers nationwide, bringing the number of agents to 11,507 and the number of support employees to 15,612.
For 2003, the bureau has set out to hire 862 agents, specifically planning to hire 346 agents with skills in computer science, technology and language fluency.
Other areas of interest, Dahle said, are foreign and military intelligence, science, engineering, accounting and finance.
Applicants with backgrounds in law enforcement and the military are on hold for hiring.
"A lot of people think if they want to be an FBI agent, they have to major in criminal justice," Dahle said. "That's probably not the way to go. The traditional ways are less desirable now."
Prospective agents must be U.S. citizens ages 23 to 37 with a minimum four-year college degree. The starting salary upon completion of 16 weeks in training is $53,000 to $59,000.
The FBI does have a strict anti-drug policy, and applicants must pass a polygraph examination.
"There's no job currently out there that's more important than what we're doing right now," Dahle said.
Young and Parker said their career changes somewhat surprised those around them.
"People see you in a certain light: 'Oh, you're the high-tech person.' They don't see you as going out and shooting guns and wrestling with people," Parker said.
But he's enjoying the switch from a computer software career.
"It wasn't really gratifying," he said. "You're saving a few cents for a company but you're not touching anybody's life."
Original article: http://www.al.com/news
^macro[showdigestcomments;^uri;High-tech agents most wanted]