What is the CIA?
The Central Intelligence Agency was formed in 1947 under the National Security Act. It gathers, interprets and analyzes intelligence and organizes operations under the direction of the President of the United States. The CIA’s main role is gathering sensitive information about foreign governments, important individuals and companies, and providing this information to elected officials and other people who are responsible for protecting the American citizens.
How do you become a CIA agent?
Have you ever sat in front of your TV, watching one of the countless crime-fighting series such as Criminal Minds or CSI: Miami, with CIA agents dressed in classy black suits, flashing their badges and bringing down dangerous criminals? Does that make you wonder ‘how do I become a CIA agent’? If so, continue reading.
Educational requirements for becoming a CIA agent
Aspiring CIA agents need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in fields such as international affairs, national security, political science, international business, economics, finance, business administration or philosophy. In addition to that, exposure to foreign languages is considered a huge benefit in the field of intelligence.
When choosing your degree or specialization, there are many programs that can lead to a career in the CIA. Below is a list of potential programs:
- Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice
- Associate’s Degree in Corrections, Law Enforcement and Private Security
- Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Crime
- Bachelor’s Degree in Crime Scene Investigation
- Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security Technology and Cyber Warfare
- Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety
- Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
- Master’s Degree in Administration of Justice and Security
In reference to educational requirements, here are a few quick tips that might come in handy:
- Earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher: This is the minimum GPA requirement for agency positions requiring a college degree
- Learn to speak a foreign language
- Obtain work experience: While it is beneficial to have any prior military, security or law enforcement experience, it is not a compulsion
- Enroll in a mentoring program: You might have the opportunity to receive mentoring from professionals with firsthand experience in the field. This will help you get an insight into the deeper workings of the CIA
- Study abroad: This will enhance your foreign language skills and will give you a look into foreign cultures, their lifestyle, traditions etc. Knowledge of this sort is considered very useful in intelligence agencies
- Key skills: Strong interpersonal skills, report writing, language expertise and leadership qualities will be helpful on the job
After you have fulfilled the minimum educational requirements, the next step towards becoming a CIA agent, is the clearance process. This is a lengthy and highly detailed process where the entire life history of the applicant is reviewed with scrutiny. A polygraph test is conducted to verify the applicant’s honesty and ability to handle sensitive information. Psychological and medical examinations are also conducted to determine whether the applicant is cut out for the tough nature of the job. Any use of illegal drugs will be taken into account and applicants are required to be clean of such substances for at least 12 months before applying. In addition to that, any criminal record must be disclosed.
Work as a CIA agent
Once you are a part of the CIA, you will have plenty of opportunities to expand your horizons. Most people think that being a part of this organization means being a secret agent only. The CIA offers a lot of other career options as well. Below is a list of a few of these:
- NCS Language Officer
- Specialized Skills – Targeting Officer
- Computer Engineer – Full Performance
- Computer Forensics Engineer
- Network Engineer
- Program Management Engineer
- Economic Analyst
- Political Analyst
- Clinical Psychologist
- Research Psychologist
The different careers at the CIA can be divided into the following career categories and departments:
- Clandestine Service
- Facilities Service
- Legal Services
- Medical Services
- Logistics Services
Keep in mind: To become a CIA agent, you must be a U.S. citizen and not older than 35 years of age. Furthermore, if you are married, your spouse must be a U.S. citizen as well.
Lawyers who are interested in working for the Agency will be interested in this bit of information: CIA’s official website states that the Agency hires “Attorney (Honors and Lateral)” and pays them between $68,712-136,771 per year. Similarly, “Political Analyst” salary will range between $50,861-98,305.
The growth in this field is lower than average owing mainly to its tough nature. However, the demand for employment in this sector is not likely to dry out.