What Does an Undercover Agent Do?

Many types of cases require undercover work. These include investigations of public corruption, bribery, money laundering, narcotics, and theft of technology. Undercover operations can also be used to infiltrate gangs and other criminal organizations.


The OIG’s survey showed that USOU has made progress in integrating the review of undercover operations with other field divisions, and a standardized undercover operation proposal form is near completion. However, some challenges remain.

Job description

An undercover agent works with a team of officers to collect evidence and solve crimes. The job requires a strong memory and attention to detail. It also requires the ability to take on a new identity and act convincingly. A good undercover agent will be able to interact with members of the public in social and professional venues. He or she may have to change their appearance, hair color and even their place of residence in order to fit in with the community.

He or she must also be able to work under pressure, as undercover assignments often require a long period of time. In addition, he or she must be able to communicate effectively with colleagues, both in person and over the phone. He or she must also be able to defuse situations if they arise.

Some undercover operations involve infiltrating criminal networks or posing as offenders to uncover organized crime activity. These operations can be very dangerous, but are an important part of law-enforcement practice. Moreover, they can be very effective. However, their use should be monitored carefully and subject to regular evaluations.

Undercover employees should not engage in any activity that is likely to compromise the integrity of the investigation or result in the exposure of their cover identity or alias. Such activities include participating in unlawful investigative techniques, such as illegal wiretapping or mail openings, and breaking and entering or trespassing. Undercover employees may also participate in self-defense, but only when reasonable and necessary.

Education and training requirements

Undercover agents are employed by law enforcement agencies in a variety of different roles. Whether they are working as part of a drug investigation or seeking to gather information from an organized crime syndicate, these individuals must have the ability to remain undercover for extended periods of time and perform a variety of tasks without detection. They may be required to live and work in locations that are unfamiliar or hostile. This type of investigative work is not easy and can be extremely dangerous.

The FBI has a multi-step application process known as the Special Agent Selection System (SASS). This includes a written exam, an interview and a physical fitness test. Candidates must meet the minimum requirements to pass all of the tests and be able to submit a background file and medical clearance to be considered for a position as an undercover agent.

In addition to the requisite training, an undercover agent must be able to take up a new identity and adapt to an unfamiliar environment quickly and effectively. This requires a certain level of inquisitiveness and persistence as some assignments can last years.

Undercover investigations are often controversial, as they can infringe on the rights of those under investigation. For example, if an undercover agent is asked to encourage the suspect to commit a criminal act, the agent may be accused of entrapment. This is a serious legal issue that can result in criminal charges.


Undercover agents are vital to the operations of law enforcement agencies. They can work at the local, state or federal level and are responsible for a variety of investigative tasks, including infiltrating criminal groups, collecting evidence and conducting stings. They must also be able to maintain a false identity and remain safe from harm.

The average salary for an undercover agent is $66,897. However, this can vary greatly depending on location and job duties. For example, an undercover officer working on a drug trafficking case may earn more than an undercover officer working in a retail store. In general, undercover officers are paid less than uniformed police officers.

Those interested in becoming undercover agents should apply to their preferred law enforcement agency. They must meet a minimum age requirement and pass a background check and polygraph examination. Many agencies also require that applicants complete a probationary period as a uniformed patrol officer before they can perform undercover missions.

Those who want to become an undercover agent should understand that the work can be stressful and dangerous. This is because they must spend a large portion of their time undercover and face the risk of being exposed by their target. Nevertheless, it is an exciting and rewarding career for those who are brave enough to take on this challenge.

Work environment

An undercover agent works in a number of different environments. They may be placed in a warehouse, for instance, to gather information on internal theft. In such a situation, the undercover agent’s primary employer is the firm that hired them. This means that they have some job protection and can’t be summarily removed from their employment. Nevertheless, it’s important that undercover agents have a backup in case they need to leave their assignment.

In addition, undercover officers should have a clear understanding of what they’re getting themselves into. Ideally, they should have conversations with their families and close friends to make sure they’re aware of their role. They also need to be sure that their colleagues are on the same page with regard to the case. This will prevent a conflict of interests from arising.

If the undercover officer is investigating a violent crime, they should try to discourage any violence. They should also warn their targets that they are law enforcement. If they become involved in a violent situation, they should call their supervisor immediately.

If the undercover officer’s investigation involves sensitive circumstances, they should submit an application to FBIHQ for review. This application should include the SAC’s recommendation, as well as the recommendations of FBIHQ substantive sections and criminal division officials. The application should also describe any alleged benefits that could be obtained from the undercover activity.