The FBI is the U.S.’s number one law enforcement body, and one of the most important organization for the defence of domestic and international intelligence and counterterrorism operations. Jobs at the FBI are very prestigious and salaries reflect this.
Because the professional duties of the FBI’s 36,000 employees are so varied from job to job, there is a General Schedule system for payment, established by the federal government.
FBI General Schedule Pay Grades
There are 15 levels in the General Schedule, and each level has 10 steps within it. To be promoted up a GS level, employees must work through those ten steps first. The slowest rate for this promotion is one year for steps 2, 3, and 4, two years for steps 5,6, and 7 and three years for steps 8, 9, and 10. This slow promotion is rare, and often referred to as the “quality step increase”. The General Schedule is as follows:
1. General Schedule 7: $33979-$44176
2. General Schedule 8: $37631-$48917
3. General Schedule 9: $41563-$54028
4. General Schedule 10: $45771-$59505
5. General Schedule 11: $50287-$65371
6. General Schedule 12: $60274-$78355
7. General Schedule 13: $71674-$93175
8. General Schedule 14: $84697-$110104
9. General Schedule 15: $99628-$129517
There is also almost always an adjustment for cost of living, or COLA. This is normally between 12.5 and 28.7 percent. There are also bonuses given for overtime, demanding availability, and occupational hazards.
FBI Special Agent Salary
There is a rigorous screening process for FBI Special Agents, and because they are so highly skilled and trained, they receive certain salary advantages. Special Agent salaries begin at the GS-10 pay grade, plus a Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), which is 25 percent of wage plus COLA. Agents can retire after 20-25 years in the field, whereas other employees can only retire after 30 years. Agents can make it to GS-13 step 10 if Agents stay active in the field.
FBI Professional Staff Salary
FBI professionals are critical to supporting FBI operations, and their jobs include intelligence analysts, linguists, surveillance specialists, scientists, and administrators. Because they have such rigorous academic requirements, employees enter at the GS-7 level or higher, and can be promoted to the GS-14 level. These staff get COLA, and sometimes Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime of between between 10 and 25 percent of their salary. Entry pay grade is determined by the employees held degrees, for instance a masters or PhD
FBI Supervisor and Executive Salaries
Any Special Agents or professional staff who become supervisors or managers can make it all the way to GS-14 or GS-15. Extensive time must be put in with the FBI, as well as excelling at their jobs. Promotions can go to field agents, Agents-in-Charge or instructors. Units like the Hostage Rescue Teams and Counterterrorism Fly Teams, which require elite skills, many of these employees are given supervisor status which allows them to recieve a GS-14 or GS-15 pay grade.
FBI’s highest level includes executives like the Director and Assistant Directors who manage major divisions. Salaries for these senior staff are awarded based on the Senior Executive Service pay scale. The SES, unlike the GS system, does not have a detailed structure, but gives the FBI the freedom to allocate salaries at will. The SES’ minimum salary is 120 percent of the GS-15 step 1 salary, and the highest SES wage was set at $179,700 in 2010. These senior staff might also earn annual bonuses between $10,000 and $20,000.