Intelligence officers are federal employees and can work for any one of various agencies, such as the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the military, and other organizations mentioned in this article.
Information on obtaining a federal job can be obtained by visiting the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's USAJOBS Web site, https://www.usajobs.gov. Some agencies, such as the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, have their own application processes. Agencies generally seek the best students to fill intelligence positions, so high grades are essential. In addition, each intelligence agency recruits college graduates. Agencies send representatives to college campuses nationwide to interview interested students. Candidates must undergo a medical examination and a thorough security check in addition to written and oral examinations. Those accepted into an agency generally receive one to two years of on-the-job training.
Extensive training programs are in place for entry-level personnel, and employees are encouraged to pursue specialized studies in foreign languages, engineering, or computer technology. Entry-level employees generally are assigned to gather information. With experience and training, they can qualify as analysts. Advancement may include postings requiring more responsibility and assignments in foreign countries. Generally, officers advance according to a military schedule; they are promoted and given assignments according to the needs of the government. Further advancement leads to management positions, and all agencies aggressively follow a policy of advancement from within.
Tips for Entry
Learn a foreign language or join a school or community cultural organization. Intelligence officers gather information from around the world, so being knowledgeable about other cultural groups and countries is an important skill.
Contact your local FBI office or speak with a military recruiter to learn more about career opportunities for intelligence officers.
Speak with a career counselor on how you can structure your curriculum and extracurricular activities to focus on current world affairs, politics, and geography.
Become an expert on a global hotspot; the Middle East, parts of Asia, and Russia are currently the focus, and knowing the language and customs of that region will give you an edge.
Read THE INTELLIGENCER: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (http://www.afio.com/22_intelligencer.htm) to learn more about the field.