Use the links below to view our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about becoming a DEA Special Agent.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and no older than 36 at the time of their appointment. In accordance with Public Law 100-238, this position is covered under law enforcement retirement provisions; therefore, you must be appointed before reaching your 37th birthday unless you are a preference eligible veteran OR presently serve or have previously served in a Federal civilian law enforcement retirement-covered position (after subtracting the years/months of prior federal service worked in a primary law enforcement position, you must be less than 37 years of age). The maximum entry age limit was established under the age discrimination prohibitions contained in Section 15 of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act. DEA may disqualify you at any time during the process should it be determined you reach age 37 before completion of the selection process unless you are a preference eligible veteran.

Depending on scheduling and candidate availability, our hiring process may take 12 months or longer.

DEA Special Agents are generally hired at the GS-7 or GS-9 level, depending on education and experience. The salary includes federal Law Enforcement Officer base pay plus a locality payment, depending on your duty station. In addition, 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) will be added to your base and locality pay. After graduation starting salaries are approximately $49,746 for a GS-7 and $55,483 for a GS-9. After four years of service, Special Agents are eligible to progress to the GS-13 level and can earn approximately $92,592 or more per year. Visit the latest Office of Personnel Management Law Enforcement Officer Salary Calculator.


DEA is charged with enforcement of the Federal Controlled Substances Act; therefore, all applicants must fully disclose any drug use history during the application process. Applicants whose drug use history is outside of acceptable parameters will not be considered for employment. All DEA employees are subject to random urinalysis drug testing throughout their careers. Download our Drug Questionnaire (PDF 91 KB)

The PTA determines if potential candidates can withstand the rigors of Special Agent training. Candidates must be in excellent physical condition in order to pass this assessment.

If you fail your first PT assessment, administered in the field, you will get a second chance to pass it within 30 days. A second failure will be cause for your application process to be discontinued. Therefore, it is a good idea to train to ensure that you are prepared to successfully complete this assessment.


A background investigation (BI) is one of the final steps in the application process that seeks to discern a comprehensive snapshot of you. The investigation provides information on personal history, education and work experience, personal and professional references, as well as other necessary checks. The time it takes to complete the BI is dependent on the type and scope of investigation being conducted.

Investigate information on other DEA Career Opportunities.

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