'Criminal Minds': How Much Would a Supervisory Special Agent Make in Real Life?
18th November 2019
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The writers of Criminal Minds may take a lot of creative licenses when dealing with how the FBI agents of the BAU get their job done, but when it comes to the internal hierarchy, they are pretty accurate. Sure, Penelope Garcia’s job title of technical analyst doesn’t actually exist, but she would be an intelligence analyst within the unit if she were a real FBI employee. Many of the other job titles do exist; for example, supervisory special agents do exist within the FBI.

How much does a supervisory special agent make?

Supervisory special agents are considered senior personnelwithin the FBI, and their salary matches that experience. While afirst-year special agent will start with a salary of about $53,000, their payincreases each year exponentially. Because the FBI is a government agency, theyuse a steps program for salary progression. Promotions significantly increasethe salary of an agent, as well.

According to Payscale,the average supervisory special agent can expect to make around $130,000 peryear, before additional compensation. Some roles will garner a much higherpaycheck, though. Some individuals in supervisory positions can command as muchas $170,000 per year. Salary for those in supervisory roles is generally basedon the agent’s educational background, their time in the agency, and the areathey are servicing. For example, agents in WashingtonD.C. typically earn more than agents in field offices around the United States.

How does a special agent rise to a supervisory role?

It would seem that once someone joins the FBIthey are in the FBI for good. That’s not always the case. FBI agents have theright to resign at any time, but every recruit signs a three-year commitment.If the agent leaves before that three-year commitment is up, the agency can askthe rookie to reimburse the agency for the cost of training. Resignations arenot particularly frequent, in fact, the majority of special agents aim to risethrough the ranks of the FBI.

Supervisory special agents are agents who have proven themselvesin the field. According to Study,supervisory roles are highly competitive and generally go to special agents whohave at least eight years of experience in the field. They must also apply forthe role and show exemplary skills in their discipline, as well as leadershipskills. After all, the entire point of supervisory special agents is tolead a small team of other agents.

Is there actually a unit chief in the real BAU?

Criminal Minds fans may know that there is a unit chiefwithin the BAU. For many seasons,Aaron Hotchner served as the unit chief. He departed the BAU in Season 12. WhileHotchner was seen mainly as the boss of the BAU, the actual FBI is notstructured in the same way. Yes, chiefs are used, although the term chief israrely used within the FBI now. Instead, Hotchner would have been considered aunit director.

A unit director is often tasked with reporting directly to thedeputy director of the FBI. Unit or section directors may serve in a leadershipcapacity, but, in actuality, they are ranked the same as supervisory specialagents, and their pay reflects it. Unit directors are more likely to earn a paychecktowards the top end of the pay scale, but only because they generally have morefield experience and years within the agency than others within their unit.

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