Major Difference Between the CIA and FBI

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Major Difference Between the CIA and FBI

The CIA and FBI are both investigative agencies that deal with the security of the United States of America and its citizens. This CareerStint article lists some of the major differences between the two. Get ready for the CIA vs FBI face off!

Taking no chances
As the FBI and CIA both deal with national security, they always conduct extensive background checks on all new applicants. Any history of violence, drug use, criminal charges, or even defaults in payments can get you rejected. If you want to make a career in either agencies, then it’s best to maintain a clean record, and to always be completely honest about the personal information you provide; because if you lie, they will know.

We all watch crime shows on TV on a regular basis. They typically have a team of confident, über-cool agents with strong personalities and stronger reflexes. We all have wished to be them at some point of time, catching the bad guys and bringing justice to the families of the victims; seems like such a noble job, and it is. However, the glorified versions of crime on TV are far from the gruesome reality, where many times, the bad guys can’t be stopped and innocent people end up dying. This is where the real investigative agencies come in. Two of these are the FBI and the CIA, both very popular names. Although they both have the same aim, of stopping the bad guys, their roles, responsibilities, and jurisdictions are fundamentally different. The following are some major points of difference between these two bodies, which highlights their roles, power, and requirements to become an agent.

Full Name Central Intelligence Agency Federal Bureau of Investigation
Year of Founding 18th September, 1947 26th July, 1908
Headquarters George Bush Center for Intelligence, Langley, Virginia J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, D.C.
Motto “The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence.” Unofficial motto: ‘And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ ‘Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity’
Number of Employees Classified. Estimated to be around 21,000 More than 35,000 as of 2013
Role The CIA is an independent entity that deals with international intelligence. It has agents placed all over the world, who collect and evaluate information which deals with the national security of the United States. The agency takes action on this intelligence if it threatens the security of the US; for example, terrorism threats. The FBI is a federal government agency that operates within the country. Unlike the CIA, it is a law enforcement agency that deals with domestic security. It falls under the US Department of Justice. It mainly deals with civil right violations, frauds and other federal crimes, and domestic terrorism threats.
Employment Requirements The CIA hires candidates who are between 18 to 35 years of age, although the upper limit can be raised. Educational requirements include a college degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, though a post-graduate specialization degree is greatly preferred. Fluency in at least one foreign language is desired and given preference to. The FBI hires candidates who are between 23 to 37 years of age. A 4-year Bachelor’s degree is a must, with an added advantage if you have a specialization. A degree in Law, Accounting, Foreign language, or any other advanced degree is required.

The common point in employment regarding both these agencies is that they need work experience of a certain number of years for certain posts. The best way to find out all the specific requirements is to visit the official website and check out the information about the post that you are interested in.

Salary range/Pay scale USD 40,000 to USD 1,00,000 and above, depending on the position you are working in, and your experience. USD 35,000 to USD 90,000 and above, depending on the position you are working in, and your experience.

(These are approximate figures as of 2014)

Jurisdiction The CIA has jurisdiction internationally. It is involved in affairs related to national security, that are related to the USA but take place on international soil. For example, international terrorism threats to the US. The FBI has jurisdiction all over the country. Any incident related to security and violation of federal laws falls under the FBI’s net. It has more power than local law enforcement agencies. For example, a case of serial killings around the country.
Level of Clearance Highest Second highest

It is difficult to determine who has more power among the two as their areas of operation are entirely different. They do collaborate with each other in certain issues of national security, but they are otherwise entirely independent in their operations. That said, there is still one very common thread that ties them – they both strive for the safety of the United States and its people.

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