CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 24, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Land a Job in an Intelligence Agency in the US

The Central Intelligence Agency is one of the premier intelligence agencies in the country, but there are actually 17 different agencies in the intelligence community. These include:

  • Homeland Security
  • The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  • National Security Agency
  • Office of Naval Intelligence
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Drug Enforcement Administration

and many more…

Getting a job at these agencies is NOT easy, but it’s definitely worth it if you want a rewarding career serving and protecting your country--or even the world at large--from threats.

The process of getting a job at an intelligence agency varies according to each agency you are considering:

CIA

The CIA often hires their agents right out of college, and they prefer students who specialize in:

  • Communications
  • Foreign Languages
  • Analytics
  • Mathematics
  • Technology

Students must be U.S. Citizens, and they must have a strong academic record in order to be considered.

Potential employees MUST submit to a polygraph test in order to be hired by the CIA, and they must take a number of written exams in order to determine their eligibility to work at the CIA. The CIA will also do a thorough background check to ensure that there are no red flags in your past.

Of course, in order to land the job, students must avoid improperly and illegally using drugs and alcohol. For students who want to work at the CIA, it’s possible to find special student opportunities.

FBI

To work at the FBI, it’s important to want a career in:

  • Law enforcement
  • Intelligence analysis
  • Foreign relations

Students must undergo roughly 800 hours of training in order to qualify to work at the FBI, with training ranging from firearm operation to case management to operational skills. Agents must also be physically fit, and there is a list of physical requirements posted on the FBI job website.

Only after basic training is completed will you become a true FBI agent.

NSA

Students wanting to work at the NSA will need to study fields such as:

  • Computer Sciences
  • Cyber operations
  • Data Management
  • Human Resources
  • Intelligence analysis
  • Security
  • Languages
  • Foreign relations

There are many more career opportunities for those in the right field of study…

The NSA has a hiring procedure fairly similar to the CIA, though perhaps not quite as detailed in the background check. They focus on psychometrics to ensure that their agents are qualified and mentally capable of handling the tasks that they will be given during the course of their career at the NSA.

Professionals can also find jobs at the NSA, provided they have skills in the right industries.

Former military personnel also find job openings at the NSA, offering those who want a life of action and patriotism to continue operating in their own country.

These are just the three largest agencies, but there are many more to consider. If your goal is to work at one of these intelligence agencies, it’s worth doing your research in order to see what you need to do to land that dream job!

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