Changes in employment status occur with an intent to put a better performing worker in a position that the management feels that they (the worker) would perform better, to relieve an underperforming worker or to reward a worker for exemplary service (Budd& Bhave, 2008). The promotion and transfer of federal agents are usually take place gradually since they are almost always based on merit. Demotions in the FBI are rare and only occur in cases of extreme breach of discipline. Employment status changes in the FBI are in most cases either horizontal, where an agent remains in the same rank but is transferred or have their pay increased due to non- merit factors such as tears of service or vertical where an agent moves up the ranks.
One federal agent whose change in employment status and rise among ranks did not take the typical long periods is Lucas O’ Connor. Before joining the FBI as a Special Agent, the lowest rank in the Bureau, O’ Connor worked in the Special Weapons and Tactics unit of the New York Police Department. Soon after joining the FBI, O’Connor who holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Brown University took a Masters degree in Criminology from the University of California, Berkeley. At the same time, O’Connor exhibited extraordinary talent in his duties and investigation skills and brought many handled many cases to logical conclusions.
The diligence and professionalism in his duties as well as acquisition of new skills following the completion of his Master of Science degree at the University of California, saw O’Connor being promoted from the Special Agent rank to the rank of a Supervisory Special Agent and later to the rank of a Special Agent In Charge. All these ranks are within the Field operations and agents of the ranks have to take instructions from the FBI management agents who are higher in rank. However, there are profound distinction in duties, levels of supervision, salary and prestige. The changes also saw him being transferred from Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles.
The changes brought remarkable changes to O’Connor’s job. His basic pay rose from the annual $61,100 he received as a special agent to $ 72,100 as a Special Agent In Charge. His housing, medical and other allowances also rose by a similar margin. The transfer from Phoenix to Los Angeles also came with changes. Due to the more sophisticated levels of crime as well as the large population of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles FBI division is much better equipped than the Phoenix division. The transfer ensured that he got to handle higher profile cases. One such case that he got to handle is a bank fraud case involving $ 150,000,000 which he brought to a logical conclusion. The chances of occurrence of such a fraud in Phoenix are extremely slim and since he was a low ranking agent there, chances were that he would never had been given a chance to handle the case. For a federal agent, getting such a chance is extremely important as it is through such instances that the agent gets to prove their capability paving way for movement up the career ladder. It is also much easier for the top FBI brass to get to know of his activities in Los Angeles than it would be in Phoenix. The highest ranking agent in the Phoenix division is a Special Agent in Charge. It is therefore unlikely that he would have moved any further in rank had he stayed there (Kessler, 1993).
As a Special Agent In Charge, O’Connor is in directly in command of at least 60 agents. This enables him to make a greater impact in his work and to be able to do what he loves to do best- fight crime in a broader platform. His presence at the Los Angeles division may enable him to move to the FBI management in future and therefore get to apply his skill at an even greater capacity.
Changes in the employment status are often inter-linked. A promotion almost always comes along with a pay rise. It is the attainment of the promotion that calls for extraordinary performance as one has to stand out in whatever duties they undertake if they are to move up the career ladder. Attainment of new skills is also imperative for any professional who wishes to advance in their careers (Mincer, 1974) For FBI agents like O’Connor, the need to give their all in their career is even greater if they wish to progress.