‘Criminal Minds’: Here’s How Realistic Garcia’s Job Is

by Amanda Glover

Fans of Penelope Garcia know her as the spunky tech wiz for the BAU. But, how realistic is a Technical Analyst’s job these days?

Since 2005, actress Kirsten Vangsness’s character, Penelope Garcia, stole every episode of the hit CBS crime drama, “Criminal Minds”. Thanks to her bright personality and equally bright wardrobe, Garcia lit up the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).

As a Technical Analyst, Garcia’s job allows her to highlight her computer skills. After dropping out of Caltech, she taught herself computer skills and ended up on the FBI’s list of most dangerous hackers in the world. Sounds like one of the most dangerous honors, right?

However, the smart computer nerd didn’t want to steal or gather leverage on anyone. Instead, she wanted to take down businesses that she saw as corrupt. When the BAU brings her in, they offer her a choice to either go to jail or work for them. Thankfully, she chooses to join their team.

Penelope Garcia doesn’t have to join her bullet-proof-vest-wearing team in taking down serial killers. Instead, she gets to sit behind a collection of computers and gather necessary information for her team. Also, she gets to sport her iconic collection of colorful outfits and glasses, bright makeup, and funky hairstyles. Surprisingly, her job doesn’t really exist in the FBI. But, there is the job title of an Intelligence Analyst.

So Outsiders, how much do you think an Intelligence Analyst for the FBI earns? They make up to six figures annually!

According to FBITraining.org, everyone gets paid according to a General Schedule.

For someone lacking in experience as an Intelligence Analyst, according to the FBI’s website, they start out making between $33,979 to $44,176 a year. 

More on How Realistic Penelope Garcia’s Job Is

If Penelope Garcia’s job as a Technical Analyst wasn’t fiction, she’d likely make closer to six figures, given her impressive knowledge of computers and hacking. Not saying she would make six figures, but she’d make more than the average Analyst.

But a newbie Analyst would also receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP). This is a 25% bonus plus whatever their base salary is.

The top pay grade for Intelligence Analysts gets as high as $129,517 a year, not including LEAP. However, even those who’d rather not go into management still can make up to $110,104 a year.

Penelope and JJ Stayed Friends Off-Screen

It’s no secret that when actors spend a lot of time together at work, they sometimes build friendships when the cameras stop rolling.

Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook (JJ) remained close friends. After all, Garcia and JJ always had each other’s backs and that seemed to continue in real life.

For example, when Cook was fired on the show, Vangsness and the public eye strongly voiced their opinions. Kirsten did everything she could to defend her friend. She even created a petition for fans and other celebrities to sign. After the petition succeeded, Criminal Minds offered Cook the job back. Thankfully, she took the offer and remained by Vangsness’s side.