FBI & CIA: Differences & Roles

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 12:28 am

There are two federal security agencies in the United States: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). These two organizations gather data that either relates to criminal conduct or has an impact on national security and take appropriate action. Despite the fact that they occasionally work together, their areas of interest are varied.

fbi vs cia difference

The FBI is basically a law enforcement organization that gathers information about domestic security and conducts criminal investigations. The CIA is very much an international intelligence organization and is not in charge of national security. The major distinction between the two is evident in their names: the FBI looks into crimes, while the CIA gathers intelligence. Let’s examine the functions of the CIA and FBI as well as their differences.


The purpose of the Central Intelligence Agency is to safeguard national security. They accomplish this by performing counterintelligence operations and gathering intelligence. Their main duty is acting as a foreign intelligence organization. This indicates that they gather data on various domestic and international activities.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency charged with enforcing the law. It collaborates closely with national, state, and local law enforcement organizations to uphold public safety against both domestic and foreign threats. The bureau also supports these organizations by drawing on its knowledge of terrorism cases that impact Americans living abroad or that harm U.S. territories. The FBI’s primary responsibility is to stop criminal conduct within US borders, whether it’s targeted at public servants or ordinary civilians.


The primary distinction between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency is the focus of this article.

The main differentiator between the CIA and the FBI is that the former’s primary duty is intelligence gathering outside of United States territory, whilst the latter’s prime objective is law enforcement inside of US territory. The relative mission statements of these two organizations show how different they are from one another.

Let’s examine the main distinctions between the two leading security organizations in the United States.


Domestic and international activities are the main area where the CIA and FBI differ from one another. While the FBI concentrates on looking into criminal activity that occurs within American borders, such as terrorism, espionage, cybercrime, bank robberies, and other crimes. The CIA’s broader objective is to collect intelligence outside of American territory for examination of political or economic concerns influencing American foreign relations.


The acquisition of intelligence abroad is the CIA’s main priority. It lacks any capacity for law enforcement both inside and outside the US borders. The FBI, on the other hand, focuses more on looking into criminal behavior both at home and abroad. The work of the FBI’s organization extends beyond only intelligence gathering in the manner of the CIA.


The origins of these two organizations’ members are what distinguish them from one another. Specifically, even if they are citizens or military personnel is relevant (CIA). The civilian staff of the CIA is typically made up of analysts with specialized academic backgrounds in fields like political science, economics, international relations, languages, area studies, etc.


While the FBI agents primarily looks into crimes on U.S. territory, the CIA agents primary duty is gathering intelligence on other nations. These all include things like cybercrimes and terrorism.


Although the CIA’s budget is secret, it is thought to be around $15 billion per year. However, the FBI’s reported annual budget, which is in the region of $10 billion, is available to the public.


The CIA’s purpose involves direct action operations (which include paramilitary actions) abroad in addition to foreign intelligence collecting, whereas the FBI nearly exclusively concentrates its efforts on domestic tasks.

The FBI has much wider authority than the CIA does when it comes to domestic investigations. The FBI seems to have more constitutional jurisdiction than the CIA, but only while conducting operations within American territory. If you’ve seen something on TV or read something online about how the CIA and FBI are attempting to prevent terrorist strikes of some kind from occurring globally, it is not surprising. Despite modest differences in their respective functions, they both contribute to maintaining national security.


Both the CIA and FBI are governmental organizations that serve the American government. As a result, they each have the authority to conduct investigations into crimes that fall under their scope on behalf of the US President.

While both the CIA and the FBI are regarded law enforcement organizations, the CIA is thought to concentrate more on clandestine operations than criminal investigations.

The US Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) main responsibilities center on preserving national security. Since more than a century ago, the FBI has been responsible for upholding federal law.


The CIA and FBI collaborate through information exchange to stop terrorist strikes within the US. However, they frequently clash over jurisdiction, just as they would if they were between two humans. They typically operate independently. However, they are linked via the top management and can assist one another in instances of national interest.


Who makes the most money between the CIA and the FBI has been a frequent topic of discussion. What follows are some important details concerning their pay structure.

Agents for the FBI and CIA are paid roughly the same salaries. The amount of money they receive also relies on whatever experience they may have. In both cases, a new agent can make less money. It is difficult to determine who receives most because both agents make somewhere between $50,000 to $90,000 yearly.

However, civilian employees of either agency can anticipate much greater pay. This is due to the fact that they frequently hold advanced degrees and work in settings that are formal.


Although the CIA and FBI are both agencies of the American government, they each have a unique function in preserving national security. Their separate duties in acquiring intelligence and conducting criminal investigations differ. We anticipate that after reading this article’s content, you will grasp the two concepts better.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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