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Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA)

Earnings Potential

After graduation from the DEA, starting salaries are can be from $49,000 to $55,000. After four years of service Special Agents can earn approximately $93,000 or more per year.

Facts at a glance

  • The DEA is the leading agency for drug laws and pursuing and coordinating U.S. drug investigations.
  • In 2005, the DEA apprehended $1.5 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs.
  • The head of the DEA is appointed by the President of the United States and established by the US Senate.
  • To be considered for a position as a DEA, applicants who are found, through investigation or personal admission, to have experimented with or used narcotics or dangerous drugs, except those medically prescribed, will not be considered for employment with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Summary of what this career entails

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents enforce laws and regulations relating to illegal drugs. Not only is the DEA the lead agency for domestic enforcement of Federal drug laws, it also has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations abroad. Agents may conduct complex criminal investigations, carry out surveillance of criminals, and infiltrate illicit drug organizations using undercover techniques.

Examples and or details of work

Drug Enforcement Agents Infiltrate trafficking organizations, conduct investigations, arrest violators, confiscate drugs, collect and prepare evidence.


Degrees that lead to this career

Some of the degrees an individual can attain:

  • A.A. in Administration Justice
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • B.S. in Social Worker
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice

Specific Career openings in this field

Some of the positions available for individuals who want a career as a Drug Enforcement Agent include Deputy Administrator, Chief of Operations, Chief Inspector, Intelligence Division, and Human Resource Division.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Police and Detectives, on the Internet at