FBI wants cyber sleuths with some muscle

The bureau’s cybersecurity job requirements require applicants to complete a stiff physical fitness test, even though most of their time will likely be spent behind a desk.

Shutterstock image: lifting weights in front of a computer.

Applicants heeding the FBI's recent call for new cybersecurity experts had better get to the gym soon, as the agency isn't changing its physical requirements for the new positions.

The bureau’s cybersecurity job requirements require applicants to complete a stiff physical fitness test to earn and keep their posts, even though most of their time is likely to be spent at a desk or in data centers.

On Dec. 29, the FBI issued a job applicant dragnet of sorts looking for potential recruits with cyber expertise. The agency said it needed a slew of digitally talented 23-37 year-olds to help keep up with its growing investigations into cybercrimes such as website hacks, intrusions, data theft, botnets, and denial of service attacks.

The bureau's campaign to bring aboard more technical talent, including computer scientists, IT specialists, and engineers is open until Jan. 20. According to the FBI's job description, the slots will pay between $59,340 and $76,568 per year.

“Cyber agents will be integrated into all the different violations that we work. So whether it’s a counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigation, they could be the lead agent in the case,” Robert Anderson Jr., executive assistant director for the Bureau’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, said in a statement that accompanied the job listing.

“We’re looking to hire a lot of cyber agents now,” he said. “It’s an area where the FBI and the whole U.S. government will be looking for this talent for years to come.”

As part of the application process, the FBI said potential cyber experts will have to pass the bureau's standard physical fitness test. And the newly-minted cyber agents will have to keep up a level of physical fitness "necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job."

The agency's PFTs measure physical acumen with a series of potentially daunting trials, including completion of a maximum number of sit-ups in one minute, a timed 300-meter sprint, an untimed maximum number of push-ups, and a timed one and one-half mile run.

According to the FBI's website, in order to pass the PFT, applicants have to get a minimum cumulative score of twelve points on the four tests, with at least one point in each of the events. They also have to pass a rigorous background security check.

Under the FBI's PFT scoring system, for example, to earn six points men must complete the one-and-a-half mile run in between 9:55 and 10:14. Women must complete it in between 11:15 and 11:34.

Anderson said the agency is looking for "highly talented, technically trained individuals who are motivated by the FBI’s mission.”

"What we want," he said, "are people who are going to come and be part of a team that is working very complex types of investigations and to utilize their skillsets in that team environment."

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