Intelligence Officers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in becoming an intelligence officer, you can begin preparation in high school by taking courses in English, history, government, journalism, geography, social studies, and foreign languages. You should develop your writing and computer skills as well. Students with the highest grades have the best possibilities for finding employment as intelligence officers.

Postsecondary Training

You must earn at least a bachelor's degree to become an intelligence officer, and an advanced degree is desirable. Specialized skills are also needed for many intelligence roles. The ability to read and speak a foreign language is an asset, as is computer literacy. Intelligence officers must have excellent analytical as well as oral and written communication skills. A historian's skills are needed to analyze political, historical, cultural, and social institutions of other nations. An intelligence officer must examine the evolution of a country, analyzing how the trends and precedents of the past relate to current and future developments.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for intelligence officers.

Other Requirements

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old (21 years old for some positions). The application process includes a thorough background check and a medical examination.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

For those interested in pursuing an intelligence career, both the FBI and the CIA offer internship programs that will provide an excellent introduction to the field. Additionally, any experience in law enforcement, the military, or in entry-level intelligence positions will be useful for aspiring intelligence officers. 

Intelligence officers should be of high moral character. Strong patriotism, discipline, and discretion are also essential. Because many officers are stationed abroad, they need to have the ability to adapt to changing living conditions and customs. Depending on the position, they must be strong analysts of data. It is essential that they be aware of current events and alert to all that is going on in the world. For those officers who embark on dangerous assignments, a cool head and a strong will serve them well.