Becoming an FBI Profiler

Dr. Mary Ellen O'Toole (FBI ret.)Dr. Mary Ellen O'Toole
I am frequently asked for advice on how to become an FBI Profiler.  I hope this information is helpful.

First, I would advise you to go to and review the current information on job requirements, paying particular attention to the requirements to become an FBI Agent. Requirements change over time, so this is your most current source of up to date information.

All of the information in this piece is based on my experience and will certainly change over time. So it will be up to you to verify current standards and requisites.

At this time, in order to work as an FBI Profiler in the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), you have to be an FBI Agent. This means you go through the FBI Academy, which is approximately 4 months long. This training is very rigorous and involves classroom training in courses that include psychology, interviewing, and legal issues. You will also be trained in firearms and will go through a challenging physical fitness program.

Once you graduate from the FBI Academy you will be given “orders” to a specific FBI Field Office. So you must be willing to relocate from your hometown to another location. It could be New York City, Detroit, Michigan or any number of field offices in the U.S.  As a new agent you will be assigned to a “Squad”, where you work a variety of investigations.

Developing experience as an investigator is critical before applying to the BAU. Most profilers working in the BAU have between seven and fifteen years of investigative experience before transferring to the BAU.

The FBI requires a four-year college degree in any major in order to apply for the Agent position. You will want to choose a degree that YOU like, so you will complete your education. Agents in the BAU have had a variety of degrees from Psychology, to Political Science, to Math to Criminal Justice. Some of the BAU profilers have Advanced College Degrees and some do not. At this point, having an advanced degree to apply to the BAU is not required for all job openings. However, that could change, and you will want to review the most current information on .

The work we do as FBI Profilers includes analysis, interviewing, writing and public speaking, assessing human behavior and group behavior. Therefore courses in psychology, sociology, philosophy, journalism, public speaking, in my opinion, could be quite helpful to you.

Many FBI Agents apply to work in the BAU. It is a competitive process and many factors are considered – depending on the particular job posting at the time. Therefore I cannot give you specific ways to prepare for a job that has not yet been posted. Once you come into the BAU, there is a training process that includes classroom training and working with an experienced Agent-Profiler. This training period lasts for approximately 2 to 3  years. In other words, it takes a long time to become a fully functioning FBI Profiler.

Keep in mind there is no one course of action to take in order to be promoted to the BAU. I can’t recommend whether it is better to have your advanced degree before you join the FBI, or to study for that degree once you get hired. That is a personal choice, with other important personal factors only you can consider including, finances, your personal situation, other career and family demands, etc.

I would urge you to also contact your local FBI Office, the Applicant Coordinator’s Office, with your more specific questions about a possible career in the FBI and ultimately in the BAU.

I hope this information is helpful to you.  Good Luck in your career choices and successes.


Mary Ellen O’Toole

 *Because of the number of inquires Dr. O’Toole receives from people who are considering a career in the FBI, she regrettably is not able to provide personalized advice for each inquiry. However, you can read about her cases in her new book Dangerous Instincts.

The Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) is a department of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) that uses behavioral sciences to assist in criminal investigations. The mission of the NCAVC and the BAUs is to provide behavioral based investigative and/or operational support by applying case experience, research, and training to complex and time-sensitive crimes, typically involving acts or threats of violence.



Missing Persons Network.Org

A possible suspect in the still-unsolved Gilgo Beach murders has been arrested in Mount Vernon, by NYPD officers, acting along with the New York State and Yonkers police.

Lucius Crawford, who has a history of violent crimes against women, was arrested on Tuesday at a Mount Vernon home. He is suspected of two 19-year-old homicides in New York.

When police entered the home, they found a woman, who had been stabbed to death. Crawford's parole tracking ankle bracelet has also been removed, and was found at the scene. Crawford had previously served time in prison, from 1995 to 2008.

Because of the suspect's past history of violent crimes against women, Suffolk County detectives are now probing any possible links he may have to the Gilgo Beach murders, which first grabbed attention around Long Island in 2010.

Between December 2010 and April 2011, the decomposed remains of eight women, one man, and a toddler were found alongside the desolate stretch of land along the Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach. The first body was found in late 2010. Some of the remains found were found to other remains found in 1996, 2000, and 2003.

Four of those remains have been identified as women who worked as prostitutes and advertised their services online. All are believed to have been strangled. The remains that have been identified as Melissa Barthelemy, of the Bronx, Megan Waterman of Maine, Maureen Brainard-Barnes of Connecticut, and Amber Lynn Costello, of North Babylon.

Some of the other remains have been identified as belonging to Jessica Taylor, another sex worker, whose dismembered body was found in Manorville in 2003. Taylor had worked in Washington, DC, and New York City.

A search of the area kicked off in 2010, after another sex worker, Shannan Gilbert, went missing in the area, after making a frantic phone call. Gilbert's body was found in late 2011 in a marsh. It is believed that Gilbert was not a victim of the serial killer, but that she died due to drowning in a swamp.