‘Criminal Minds’: What Would Penelope Garcia’s Salary Be in Real Life

Penelope Garcia is among the most beloved characters on Criminal Minds. Fans love her quirky style, desire to shield herself from the ugliness of her job, and her ability to hunt down information in mere seconds to nab a suspect and restore order to society. While Penelope’s role seems pretty cool, the tasks she completes are highly fictionalized. Even so, there are people with similar skillsets to Penelope who work for the FBI. However, fictionalized her day-to-day duties may be, many fans are left wondering just how much money someone like Penelope would make working for the FBI.

How did Penelope get her job?

Admittedly, Penelope never had any interest in joining the FBI. Once upon a time, she was a hacker, but when she was caught in a massive sting to uncover a group of hackers, she was offered two options. She was given a chance to go to prison or join the BAU. It wasn’t actually a particularly easy decision for her, but eventually, she agrees to join the team. In doing so, she’s forced to leave behind her former life.

Penelope Garcia
Penelope Garcia | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

In a flashback episode, it’s apparent that Penelope wasn’t always as whimsical and cheery as she appears on the show. In fact, before joining the team, she had a much darker sense of style and a far more sarcastic demeanor. It’s argued that Penelope’s hacking skills were used to mask internal pain.

Is Penelope Garcia’s job for real?

Anyone who has caught an episode of Criminal Minds has seen Penelope sitting in a technology bunker. Surrounded by screens, Penelope can manage to gain access to any database in the world in moments, and can even triangulate exact locations in an instant. Her skills are truly amazing, and for those skills, she was given the job title of technical analyst.

Technically, Penelopes job doesn’t exist, and the information she manages to gather would probably be inadmissible in most courts of law. Regardless, there is a similar job title in the FBI. Technically, Penelope would be considered an intelligence analyst if she were to sign up to work for the FBI for real.

What does a technical analyst for the FBI make?

So, a technical analyst isn’t an actual job title in the FBI. Instead, Penelope would have been an intelligence analyst. According to Payscale, an intelligence analyst can expect to make around $68,000. The average salary, however, may not correlate to the FBI. Because the FBI is part of the United States Government, they must adhere to a salary schedule. Each position has a number of different steps and grades.

Intelligence analysts aren’t considered special agents. Instead, they are treated as professional staff. Their starting salary is substantially lower than your traditional special agent, too. According to Chron, an incoming intelligence analyst makes around $33,000 a year, but someone who holds a master’s degree may be offered a higher starting salary, generally approximately $41,000 a year.

As an analyst rises through the ranks, they can eventually make six figures, and they can earn higher salaries based on where they live, too. Since Penelope lived around Quantico, it’s assumed she was likely offered a higher starting salary and was given generous raises, along with a pretty hefty amount of overtime pay.