The CIA is an agency that provides intelligence to the President of the United States and other high level government officials. It is the nation’s first line of defense and therefore any employee of the CIA has the goal and mission to protect the national security of the United States. The CIA agent collects information that reveals the intentions, plans and capabilities of adversaries of the United States and which provides the basis for actions and decisions. The CIA produces timely analysis of the information collected to aid the President and other government officials in making decisions necessary to protect and advance the interests of the United States. The CIA conducts overt and covert activities at the direction of the President in order to preempt espionage, threats or to achieve objectives of U.S. policy.
In order to achieve their mission, the CIA must have a variety of job types. Individuals interested in working for the CIA have the opportunity to fulfill career ambitions in many fields. There are four components within the CIA:
- National Clandestine Service
- Directorate of Science and Technology
- Directorate of Intelligence
- Directorate of Support
Within each of these categories there are a plethora of possible jobs.
Analytic Jobs in the CIA
Analysts study and evaluate pieces of information flowing in from around the world. Sources include satellite surveillance, human contacts and foreign broadcasts and newspapers. The validity of the information varies in terms of its reliability and is often incomplete or contradictory in nature. The analyst must develop usable and meaningful intelligence assessments from all those sources. Analysts in the CIA fall into specialized categories which are not limited to counterterrorism.
Once an analyst has pulled together an assessment, it may take the form of an oral brief or a written brief for the President. Every morning the President’s Daily Brief is delivered by the Director of National Intelligence. This document contains short assessments of current developments worldwide as well as anticipated events requiring the President’s attention. Individuals working as CIA analysts must have problem solving skills, strong communication skills and the ability to work as a member of a team.
Clandestine Service Jobs at the CIA
Jobs in the clandestine service department are the front-line source of information regarding critical international developments. This information could be anything from terrorism to political issues. Often clandestine service officers live and work overseas. These positions are what most people think of as “spies” or “secret agents.”
The officers in clandestine services are under cover and therefore can expect limited recognition for themselves and their families outside the agency. These officers are given competitive pay, provided housing and overseas allowances in addition to schooling benefits for their children when serving overseas. Other benefits are offered depending on the actual position the officer holds.
Candidates for these positions must have strong records of academic and professional achievement, good writing skills, highly developed interpersonal skills and problem solving abilities. Language and overseas experience is a plus and individuals must be willing and able to seek answers, study other cultures and learn other languages. Individuals in these positions are required to complete an intensive year-long training program.
Other Jobs in the CIA
There are numerous other available jobs in the CIA including those in language, science, engineering and technology, and support. Individuals with backgrounds in human resources, public affairs, legal services, and medical services will find positions at the CIA.
General requirements for employment include a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. All candidates must undergo a physical and mental exam as well as a thorough background investigation into life history. Candidates for hire are required to pass a polygraph test as well. Applicants who have used drugs within the prior 12 months are not considered for employment. Applicants with drug use prior to the previous 12 months are considered on a case-by-case basis. The application process can take from two months up to a year to complete. Entry level jobs start in the $48,000-$58,000 annual salary range for most positions.
Opportunities for Students at the CIA
There are also opportunities for students to apply for one of several work study programs in the CIA. High School seniors intending to attend a four or five year college or students who are freshmen or sophomores in college are eligible to apply for the Undergraduate Scholarship Program. Undergraduates are also eligible for the Co-op Program which provides work experience conjointly with the individual’s studies.
The Undergraduate Internship Program allows undergraduates majoring in computer science, engineering, economics, mathematics, physical sciences, area studies, foreign languages, accounting, business administration, finance, international relations, geography, logistics, graphic design, political science, foreign affairs, military and national security studies to work alongside professionals and gain practical work experience. The interns are required to work two 90-day summer internships or a combination of one semester and one summer internship.
The Graduate Studies Program in the CIA is for students entering their first or second year of graduate studies following the assignment with the CIA. Eligible students major in international affairs, economics, languages, cartography, geography, engineering or physical science. Other fields of study may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Students will participate in Agency projects and give the CIA the opportunity to assess the individuals' skills and knowledge in regards to possible permanent employment.
Student applicants must undergo the same process as other applicants for jobs at the CIA. Whether individuals have a desire to analyze information, become a spy or secret agent, or teach languages, the CIA offers many career opportunities.
The copyright of the article “Jobs at the CIA Include more than Secret Agents” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.