Why Fitness Matters
Special Agents must be mentally and physically prepared for their work. The FBI requires every applicant to pass the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and meet vision and hearing requirements.
The Physical Fitness Test (PFT)
The PFT consists of four main events in the following order, with a fifth event for candidates in the Tactical Recruitment Program. There can be no more than five minutes of rest between events. A passing score requires a cumulative 12 points, with at least one point in each event:
- SITUPS: Maximum number of continuous situps in one minute.
- SPRINT: Timed 300-meter sprint.
- PUSHUPS: Maximum number of continuous pushups (untimed).
- RUN: Timed 1.5-Mile Run.
- PULLUPS: Maximum number of continuous pullups.*
*Only candidates in the Tactical Recruitment Program (TRP) will complete this event.
How the PFT Works
Applicants are offered three opportunities to pass the official PFT within one year after passing Phase II. If the applicant failed his or her initial post-Phase II PFT, the applicant’s remaining PFT opportunities will be scheduled at any time that is mutually agreeable to the applicant, applicant coordinator and/or the physical fitness advisor.
If you have additional questions, please reach out to your local Special Agent recruiter for more information.
Note: In general, scores reported on the self-PFT are about 25 percent higher than those recorded on the day of the actual event. In other words, if an applicant reports doing 20 pushups on the self-PFT tool, statistically, he or she will score 16 on the official test. This is why it’s so important to strive for well above the minimum scores as you train.
To help you train, we have developed PFT Training Tips with skill builder drills and photos, as well as the FBI FitTest app, which provides video instruction on proper form and technique to prepare for the PFT. The app uses your smartphone’s accelerometer and GPS to help you score your own PFT self-assessment. You can download the free app on your smartphone, from Apple's App Store or from Google Play.
What Happens If You Don't Pass the Self-PFT
We strongly encourage applicants to train for this physical challenge. The PFT is not an easy test, especially if you have never taken this kind of test before. However, the FBI has a number of tools to help you prepare, from our PFT Training Tips Guide and our FBI FitTest smartphone app (available through the App Store or Google Play), which provide opportunities to participate in practice PFTs with current Special Agents. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t meet the minimum standards just yet and need more training. Many people have started from where you are and successfully completed the PFT with time and effort. However, applicants who are unable to pass the PFT within the one-year time limit will be deactivated and are no longer eligible for the Special Agent position.
Candidates must provide documentation showing the following required immunizations:
Applicants’ distant visual acuity, corrected or uncorrected, must meet FBI standards, which are 20/20 in one eye and no worse than 20/40 in the other eye.
Applicants with distant visual acuity greater than or equal to 20/100 require medical documentation of successful soft contact lens use for at least one year without significant problems or adverse effects.
Applicants with recent refractive surgery involving the creation of a corneal flap must wait six months following surgery and complete an ophthalmology evaluation to document complete healing prior to applying for employment.
Color-vision deficient applicants may be considered if they successfully complete a Farnsworth D-15 color vision test administered at the Field Office. Please note that the use of color-corrective lenses is not allowed.
Hearing has long been considered a critical and essential job function for the Special Agent position. Special Agents must be able to detect, localize and locate the source of sounds that may indicate danger or risk while entering locations tactically, while pursuing and confronting subjects, while arresting subjects and while transporting subjects to custody. Additionally, Agents must be able to hear and understand the speech of subjects and witnesses during interviews and interrogations, which are sometimes conducted in noisy, hectic situations, along with communicating with team members during raids, arrests, and searches when accurate communication without repetition is necessary. Applicants who have an average hearing loss greater than 25 decibels (ANSI standards) at 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 Hertz should have no single value at 35 decibels. Additionally, no single reading may exceed 35 decibels at 500 Hertz or 45 decibels at 4,000 Hertz.
Candidates who fail the initial pure tone audiometry screening will be asked to complete additional audiometry testing (at their own expense and conducted by an audiologist of their choosing) to more accurately access the candidate’s hearing ability. The FBI Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) will be offered to those who fail to meet the above standards with their own audiologist. Only the FBI HINT will be accepted. This test was developed to evaluate one’s ability to functionally hear human communication in a noisy environment and is specifically designed to assess the hearing requirements for law enforcement duties.
The HINT uses short sentences instead of pure tones to establish a functional level of hearing using both ears. Passing criteria include the Speech Recognition Threshold (SRT) in quiet ≤ 27.0 decibels and Composite SRT in noise ≤ 71 decibels measured in noise at 75 decibels. For those candidates who wear hearing aids, open field testing is available.
You can review additional requirements in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide.
Polio (four childhood doses) and/or a recent booster.
Meningitis (Menactra, Menveo or Menomune) within the past five years.
Tetanus Diphtheria (TD) or Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (TdAP) within the past 10 years.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) (two doses).
Hepatitis A and B completed by one of the following means:*
- Twinrix (A Hepatitis A and B combination, three doses).
- Hepatitis A (two doses) and HEPISLAV-B (two doses).
Varicella (two doses) or proof of history of having had chicken pox. This can be completed with a personal statement that includes the approximate year of disease or by providing proof of a positive titer (blood test).
Influenza (current season).
*Note: Hepatitis immunizations may take up to six months to complete if you have not already started the series with the exception of HEPISLAV-B (newly approved by the FDA), which can be completed in four weeks.
The Medical Review
Applicants may provide medical information from their personal physicians. However, the FBI Chief Medical Officer (CMO) will make the final decision based on knowledge of the demands of the position and each applicant’s medical documentation.
The FBI is committed to treating all applicants fairly and equitably in all aspects of the selection process.
The PFT consists of four main events: situps, a timed 300-meter sprint, pushups and a timed 1.5-Mile Run, with no more than five minutes of rest between events. A fifth event, pullups, is only for candidates in the Tactical Recruitment Program. Each event must be performed precisely according to the strictly defined protocol in order to be scored. Read more below — and get training tips for all of the PFT events in our PFT Skill Builder Information Guide.
This event counts the maximum number of continuous situps you can do in one minute.
- Be sure the tops of your shoulder blades are touching the floor.
- Keep arms crossed over your chest; fingers must touch the top of the shoulders. (Think trapezius muscle or the seam on some T-shirts).
- Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Your partner’s hands must be at the tongue of your shoes; knees on your toes.
- Be sure the tops of your shoulder blades touch the floor when you return to the starting position after each repetition. Your hips must remain in contact with the ground.
- Do not pause before the timed minute is up or you will forfeit the rest of the minute.
- For guidelines on passing scores and points, review the Scoring Scale chart for situps in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide.
This section tracks your time on the 300-Meter Sprint Event.
- The sprint usually takes place on a quarter-mile oval track, although this may vary based on individual circumstances.
- You will start from a standing position and run 300 meters (three quarters of one lap).
- Running fast requires optimal form to maximize performance and minimize injury, so train with drills to solidify good running mechanics (hopping, starting and strength drills).
- Drills to condition the tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia also will help with this event.
- See the Skill Builder sprint workout in the PFT Skill Builder Information Guide.
- For guidelines on passing scores and points, review the Scoring Scale chart for the 300-meter sprint in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide.
This section counts your maximum number of continuous pushups. This is an untimed event.
- You will begin in the front leaning, rest position with hands on the floor. Elbows must be away from the body, arms fully extended. The body must be held straight with the feet no more than 3 inches apart and the toes touching the floor.
- As the arms are flexed, the body is lowered until the upper arms are parallel to the floor. There should be a straight line from the center axis of the elbow to the center axis of the shoulder. (See photos in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide and the PFT Skill Builder Information Guide.)
- To train for this event, focus on drills that increase upper body strength.
- When training, perform maximum repetitions for two to three sets of pushups, with adequate recovery time — two to four minutes between sets. Stay to the schedule of no more than two times a week to allow time for adequate muscle recovery.
- Pay attention to positioning and proper form. The most efficient biomechanical position for doing pushups involves placing the palms of the hands one to two hand-widths outside of the chest (NOT the shoulders). When descending, the elbow is extended 45 degrees away from the body (NOT 90 degrees).
- For guidelines on passing scores and points, review the Scoring Scale chart for pushups in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide.
Timed 1.5-Mile Run
This section measures your time on the 1.5-Mile Run Event.
- The 1.5-Mile Run usually takes place on a quarter-mile oval track, though this may change based on individual circumstances. You will start from a standing position and run six laps around the track.
- Improvement in running mechanics comes from consistent lower-body strength work. Multiply your body weight by two to three. That weight is applied to the ground in every step. The most important factor in training is that you must have the strength to endure.
- There can be over 1,500 foot strikes in the 1.5-Mile Run for most FBI Special Agents. Your focus should be on the quality of those foot strikes, not the quantity. Heel strikes result in a higher braking force, reduced energy storage and a prolonged ground contact.
- Hit the ground with the forefoot or midfoot to minimize that shock. The mechanical advantage will enhance joint integrity and allow better economy of movement.
- Complete recoveries between repetitions will build better capacities. As your fitness improves, incomplete recoveries between efforts will simulate the demands of the overall test.
- Practice with the drills in the PFT Skill Builder Information Guide to solidify good running mechanics.
- For guidelines on passing scores and points, review the Scoring Scale chart for the timed 1.5-Mile Run in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide.
This is an untimed, continuous-motion exercise. Only candidates in the Tactical Recruitment Program (TRP) will complete this event.
- The candidate hangs from a horizontal bar with palms turned away from his or her face and arms fully extended.
- Hands are at least shoulder-width apart, but no more than 23 inches apart.
- The candidate flexes his or her arms and pulls the body upward until the chin is higher than the bar. There can be no swinging or jerking of the body and no use of the legs in an effort to propel the body upward.
- The candidate then lowers the body back to the hanging position with arms fully extended.
- The test ends once the candidate stops moving.
- For guidelines on passing scores and points, review the Scoring Scale chart for pullups in the All You Need to Know to Apply Guide.