OT: Law enforcement careers

Submitted by goMichblue on March 5th, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Just curious if there are UM students/grads who are interested in law enforcement careers. What were your majors? If so, which agencies (fed/state/local) and positions?



March 5th, 2010 at 1:33 PM ^

But I know that the CIA and I think the FBI recruited North Campus.

I'm sure that Nuclear Engineering and computer-y majors are good (honestly probably couldn't go wrong with any of the engineering majors)


March 5th, 2010 at 2:21 PM ^

I had a CS friend who worked for the NSA for a summer, and they used him mostly in encryption and code-cracking. He said it was really interesting and that they are always looking for people with a computer background, especially on the more math-y side.


March 5th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

I had a friend in CS who applied for an NSA job and had an interview, including a lie-detector. We asked him how the interview went and he said he didn't think he was going to get the job. When we asked why not, he said he failed the lie detector; with a little more prodding, we learned what the question was: "are you now or have you ever been involved in any terrorist activities?"

They did a lot of follow-up saying that there was something my friend was hiding, even if it was small, but my friend really had no ideas about why it would be getting triggered on that question (for good reason, I don't know how I'd answer the "what aren't you telling us about your involvement with terrorism?" question. The best part was, because it was just a borderline failure on that question, they let him come back and do it again; he completely failed a totally different question that time.


March 5th, 2010 at 5:58 PM ^

That was pretty much our first question: "so, did you just not get the job or are you also going to jail?"

Random fact: Aldrich Ames, probably the worst mole in CIA history actually failed a lie detector test on a question regarding his contact with foreigners. He was able to convince the questioner that the detector was getting triggered for reasons other than lying, and so nothing came of it.

Not that that proves the value of them, but last I heard the CIA and NSA still use them.


March 5th, 2010 at 1:43 PM ^

I spent the summer consulting for the FBI to improve special agent recruiting. I am pretty knowledgeable in the process if anyone is interested.

They look for certain criteria. Must be 23-36,with >3 years work experience, in excellent physical condition, no drugs, US citizen, etc.

The critical skills are mainly math, science engineering fields, finance, accounting, and business fields. Although languages are also important except spanish. Law enforcement is NOT a critical skill unless you have another critical skill. You read that correctly. The only exception is if you have reached the level of detective or higher. The reason is that the roles are investigative in nature. I have the list of all the critical skills and a recruiting presentation to share if anyone's interested.

Basically if you're wondering what to major in to go into a career with the FBI, you're good with anything analytical. Math, electrical/computer engineering, etc. business, especially accounting and finance are good too.

I'd be happy to answer any other questions. There are other interesting things that aren't obvious, especially about how long it takes to go through the process, where you could be placed, etc.

Blue in Yarmouth

March 5th, 2010 at 1:52 PM ^

Please don't get me wrong, I love being a Canadian but since I was a kid I wished I could be an American so I could get into the FBI or CIA. If those two fell through I would have been a Marine (providing I would have been an American of course).

Edit* Also don't get me wrong, I love the USA. The top three countries in the world in my humble epionion: Canada, USA and England (obviously because I have special connections with all three).

Blue in Yarmouth

March 5th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

Seinfeld said he was the best liar. I forget his exact qoute (but I am sure someone here can give it) I think it was something like: "it's not a lie if you belive it's the truth" or something. I miss Seinfeld!

I think it would be pretty easy to fool a lie detector though. I haven't studied them or anything, but I assume they are measuring something that they have determined to be a physiologial response to lying and I honestly think some people can lie without conscience. I think those people could beat a lie detector.


March 5th, 2010 at 3:05 PM ^

You can also become a US Marine if you have the appropriate paper work. I was in the Marines for a little over 6yrs, I knew guys from several different countries that only had a green card at the time they went to boot camp. They had applied for US citizenship and there were some other things they had to do as well. It may have changed some but I don't think that the door is completely shut should you really want to do it.

Raback Omaba

March 5th, 2010 at 2:24 PM ^

Make sure you stay clean. I'm not certain, but touching marijuana, even a small number of times is a deal breaker. Anything harder than weed: coke, ecstacy, etc., even once, will disqualify you. Not that you would even touch that stuff, but just saying.

They give lie detector tests too and the background checks are a bitch, so make sure you watch your step because a night of debauchery today could hurt you tomorrow.

Blue in Yarmouth

March 5th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

You just don't understand the impact your actions could have on your future. I look back and think how lucky I was to do the things I did and get away with the vast majority without much backlash (to be clear, it wasn't anything that hurt anyone else, just me).

It is difficult to imagine that the choices kids make at such young ages can have such far reaching consequences (for the kids to imagine I mean).

Zone Left

March 5th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

You're correct about the drugs. It's the same with the military. One of the guys I work with was an officer recruiter for a while, and there was a specific number of times someone could use weed, and they needed to document each occurence.

Your actions also come into play for security clearances. Investigators have called me as a reference and asked, "have you ever seen him drink too much in a night?" They know the score, but it's still a question they need answered--and lying to cover for your buddy isn't a good idea there.


March 5th, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

I was a security guard at the General Dolar Store. I had to go through a very competitive interview process and pass a rigorous physical fitness test just to be considered for the position. These were the minimum physical requirements:

5 push ups
11 sit ups
1/2 mile run in 25 minutes
ability to bend over
tie your shoes
lift 5 pounds
clap your hands
stand on one leg for 2 seconds
blink rapidly
touch your head

My only advice should you decide to apply for a security positin with the General Dollard Store is to train for a few months prior to your physical fitness test. I know the numbers are scary, but they are within reach if you are truly commited to being part of an elite security force.


March 5th, 2010 at 4:08 PM ^

One of the guys with whom I attended high school got a CIA scholarship to Michigan. He could have used it anywhere, but chose blue. I didn't know they even gave them . . . It was a sweet, sweet deal. Full ride, plus a stipend (~$10-12K a year, I think).

In return he had to work for them in the summers, and at the end he either owed them four years of service, or he could pay back only the tuition part of the full ride.

Dave (who's been a workaholic go-getter since grade school) had finished his BS by year 3, and at the end of year 4 was halfway through his MS (both in EE), and he'd parlayed the stipend on the stock market into enough money to pay back the tuition and walk away. He finished his Masters in another year on his own dime.

He's now semi-retired at 38. The bastard. :-]


March 5th, 2010 at 5:05 PM ^

If u really want to get technical, all or most of these agencies above have SRT/CRT/HRT/ERT teams that take care of those little special problems that a normal uniformed individual or agent is not trained to handle. These guys are top notch in this field of work.

SRT= special response team
CRT= crisis response team
HRT= hostage rescue team
ERT= emergency response team


March 5th, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

I'm class of 2009 and am looking for a similar career path. I majored in econ and am now getting my master's in international affairs. What I'm writing applies mostly to analyst positions. I'm still looking for an internship, but here's some good advice that I've received so far:

- I don't know what year of school you are in, but if you can, spend some time working on a critical language (Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Russian).

-If you still can, a major in some sort of regional study (Middle East or Asia would be the best).

-If you want to be an analyst and can't do some sort of regional study, major in political science or economics. Take the courses with an international focus. This will help you get into a good international affairs graduate program. You'll most likely need a master's degree for a full time position at a place like the CIA.

-Whatever you major in, make sure you have a strong background in economics. I'd say add it as a second major or a minor. My program (international security studies) adviser told us to take as much economics as we could because economic analysis a skill that DOD, CIA, FBI, etc. value.

-Also, work on your writing skills. Federal positions require a lot of writing.

-Stay away from drugs. If you tried pot a few times in college, I've heard that won't prevent you from getting hired, unless your use was frequent or has been within a certain time period. CIA won't look at you if you've done drugs within the past year. FBI is stricter. They'll reject you if you've done marijuana within the past three years or cocaine in the past decade.

-As for drinking, you can still do it, but don't get arrested in college. If you do drink a lot at UM, once you graduate, make a serious effort to cut back on your alcohol intake.

-The security clearance is all about being honest. Don't lie about anything. There are things (drug use for example) that may make you fear rejection, but don't lie about anything. The people hiring you may overlook that stuff if you're honest about it, but if they find out that you've lied about anything, you're done.