Over the past five years, the Office of Training has graduated more than 1,800 DEA Special Agents from our Basic Agent Training program. Typically, class sizes range from 40 to 50 Basic Agent trainees. The average age of these students is 30 years. Approximately 60 percent of all trainees arrive with prior law enforcement experience, while 30 percent come from a military background. In addition, the majority of the students possess a bachelor’s degree and nearly 20 percent have some post-graduate educational experience.
The curriculum is a 18-week resident program that places strong emphasis upon leadership, ethics, and human dignity. Academic instruction provides the basics of report writing, law, automated information systems, and drug recognition, as well as leadership and ethics. Underpinning the instruction is a rigorous 84-hour physical fitness and defensive tactics regimen designed to prepare new Special Agents to prevail in compliant and non-compliant arrest scenarios.
Students receive 122 hours of firearms training including basic marksmanship, weapons safety, tactical shooting, and deadly force decision training. An integral part of Basic Agent training is an emphasis upon respect for human life, leadership and ethics, human dignity, and sound judgment in the use of deadly force. During the training, students are required to apply their classroom knowledge in a series of increasingly demanding practical exercises designed to test leadership, decisiveness, and knowledge of procedures and techniques that will be used in the field.
In order to graduate, students must maintain an academic average of 80 percent on academic examinations, pass the firearms qualification test, successfully demonstrate leadership and sound decision-making in practical scenarios, and pass rigorous physical task tests. Upon graduation, students are sworn in as DEA Special Agents and assigned to DEA field offices located across the United States.