DEA Agent

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (, the DEA is the premier drug enforcement organization in the world and the only single-mission federal agency dedicated to drug law enforcement.

Using unique operational and intelligence capabilities, the men and women of DEA identify, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations and those who facilitate them, remove drugs and violent criminals from our neighborhoods, and fight the diversion of licit drugs.

For those who are interested in working for the Drug Enforcement Agency as an agent, it is important to consider the risks and challenges of this position.

DEA agents fight against the abuse and smuggling of narcotics into the United States.

One of the hardest parts of this career is fighting against organized drug trafficking.

DEA agents often work closely with border patrol agents, customs agents, and the FBI.


DEA agents are responsible for monitoring the activities of known terrorists.

This includes preventing terrorist groups from producing illegal substances that are often used to fund illegal activities.

Agents will investigate and arrest any person who is involved in any type of terrorist activity.

Undercover roles and surveillance operations are a typical part of being an agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency. dea careers

Mandatory Requirements

There are several mandatory requirements for individuals who are interested in starting a career as a DEA agent.

These include:

  • A person has to be a citizen of the United States
  • Must be over the age of 21 and under the age of 36
  • Must have a driver’s license that is valid in the United States
  • Cannot be color blind
  • Vision must be at least 20/20 in one eye, the other eye can be no worse than 20/40
  • The hearing must be sharp
  • Must be capable of lifting a minimum of 45 pounds
  • Must hold a bachelor’s in criminal justice

Education Requirements

Anyone who wishes to work as a DEA agent must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from an accredited college or university.

This is the minimum degree required.

There may be some positions that allow degrees in other areas of study such as criminology or law.

Experience as a law enforcement agent can help meet the education requirements in some instances. dea salaries

However, a criminal justice degree is preferred in the majority of instances.

In addition, many DEA agents will be required to learn and speak Spanish.

It is recommended that Spanish courses be taken while earning a degree.

Application Process

For those who meet the mandatory requirements, the next step is to contact a local DEA office and participate in an orientation session.

Make sure that you bring a military ID or driver’s license. Make sure to wear formal business attire to the orientation.

An application will be filled out during the orientation session.

The hiring process begins when the application is accepted.

During the application process, you are required to take and pass a drug test and polygraph test.

A background check will be conducted as well as a medical examination, psychological assessment, witness assessment, and a physical task test that is quite rigorous.

After the assessments and tests are completed, you will then wait to hear back from the agency.

This entire process can take up to a year to complete.

If accepted, you will be offered a place to train to become an agent for the DEA.

During the training academy recruits will take part in both classroom and physical training.

The role of a DEA agent requires an individual to be in excellent physical shape.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
District of Columbia2,870$133,890$64.37$175,340$85,560
New Hampshire390$83,970$40.37$145,270$54,720
New Jersey3,740$103,960$49.98$163,240$60,990
New Mexico1,840$77,480$37.25$99,990$43,830
New York9,950$110,390$53.07$169,100$61,410
North Carolina3,060$66,150$31.80$122,760$43,400
North Dakota370$80,890$38.89$129,750$48,030
Rhode Island390$90,340$43.43$140,860$70,160
South Carolina1,160$68,170$32.77$137,610$40,980
South Dakota220$74,700$35.91$129,750$46,450
West Virginia230$87,670$42.15$149,410$41,700
Puerto Rico520$85,560$41.14$145,480$33,270

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $133,890.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • District of Columbia - $133,890
  • Alaska - $128,410
  • Hawaii - $119,290
  • Maryland - $117,800
  • Washington - $110,620
  • New York - $110,390
  • California - $110,320
  • New Jersey - $103,960
  • Illinois - $100,140
  • Virginia - $100,010
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Detectives and Criminal Investigators, OCC Code 33-3021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Michael Morales

About Michael Morales

Michael Morales is the Webmaster and Editor in Chief for With a strong background in Web Publishing and Internet Marketing, he currently works as an independent consultant. A former paramedic and ems educator, he enjoys punishing himself doing triathlons and endurance sports. Michael currently lives in sunny Northern California, home of the highest tax rates in the world.

3 Responses to DEA Agent

  1. Avatar
    Carol Cogley #

    I greatly respect DEA agents for their dedication to combatting drug-related crime, which is hard in protecting the communities around the country or the world.

  2. Avatar
    Stuart Sealfon #

    They always face danger because they are dealing with drugs at work and the risk of working as a DEA agent is also a risk for their families.

  3. Avatar
    Robyn Fener #

    This is one of the best jobs because it offers a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact on public health and safety by actively addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Leave a Reply

Search Programs