FBI Special Agents

Every agent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation seems to be officially termed a “Special Agent”. What’s so special about them? Are there not-special FBI agents?

I have often wondered why they are special and are all agents special.

Curiously enough, a Google search on the question brings up only a Straight Dope thread from ten years ago which, typically, contains several answers. :smiley: Here 'tis.

Hmm, that link has three different answers, none with citation. Anyone have an authoritative answer?

I don’t, but the FBI does

I once read (no cite, sorry, but IIRC it was a reputable source) that J. Edgar Hoover wanted to distinguish his men from the many state police and private security agents around the country already, to indicate that FBI men were a cut above.

So, are there any non-investigative, non-special FBI agents?

If you’re an agent, you’re special. If you aren’t special, there are plenty of other FBIJobs.

Special Agent is a job classification as defined by the federal government.

“Within the U.S. government, the title of Special Agent is used to describe any federal criminal or noncriminal investigator or detective in the 1811, 1801, 2501, or similar job series as so titled according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) handbook”

From here:

Investigators from other government agencies, like NCIS, are Special Agents too. Not specific to the FBI. Just a federal job classification for investigators.