Intelligence Careers: How to get a career in intelligence in the United States

Intelligence careers may conjure up images of FBI and CIA career teams. While these intelligence careers gov are potential employers for prospective Intelligence experts, the field as a whole is much broader.

The Intelligence Careers arena includes numerous career opportunities in government branches such as the United States Army and large corporations such as information technology firms or business intelligence analysts in private organizations. Pursuing this profession necessitates extensive training and educational preparation.

Also, an intelligence job is an intriguing career path for people with a knack for data analytics, effective problem-solving abilities, and a curious mind. Knowing more about the job can help you decide if it is a good fit for your interests and career goals.

In this article, we will discuss how to become an intelligence expert, how to get a career in intelligence, and how to advance in this role.

What is an Intelligence career?

An intelligence career that which involves collecting and analyzing data from various sources in order to assess threats. An Intelligence expert works with sensitive information from law enforcement data, field observation, intelligence networks, and geographic information systems both in the field and in the office.

The scope of the work varies depending on whether the Intelligence Analyst works for the government or the private sector. The ultimate goal of a career in intelligence is to report useful information that will aid in the prevention of attacks on data or citizens by those involved in organized criminal activities.

What Does an Intelligence Professional Do?

Intelligence professionals evaluate information and data in order to identify and mitigate security threats.

Intelligence careers play an important role in international relations and national security. They collaborate with a network of local, state, and international law enforcement and intelligence organizations to share information and develop threat-mitigation strategies.

They assess threats from specific locations and groups both at home and around the world. This entails combing through large amounts of data, histories, geographical information, and statistics to create the most complete picture possible. The analyst then separates the relevant data and uses it to create a comprehensive report.

As such, they should have a solid understanding of the intelligence community’s history and structure, as well as the relationship between intelligence agencies and senior policymakers in government.

Also, working out in the field, questioning witnesses, and conducting searches are all part of the job. In addition to the fieldwork, computer-based research, typically completed in an office setting, will be required.

In order to gather as much information as possible, intelligence professionals collaborate closely with local governments, corporations, and private individuals. They quickly and thoroughly familiarize themselves with foreign locations and interpret data from foreign countries.

Some of the most common Intelligence Analyst duties and responsibilities are as follows:

  • Prepare detailed reports based on the information gathered during research.
  • Check the information against other intelligence sources.
  • Investigate criminal suspects’ assets to determine cash flow to or from specific groups.
  • Study foreign languages or communication codes to translate possible intelligence
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What is an Intelligence Careers workplace like?

The intelligence job offers numerous career opportunities in various government branches, such as the United States Army and information technology firms.

Some analysts will concentrate on the tactical aspect of the job; tactical intelligence analysts will spend more time in the field working with local law enforcement agencies. They will frequently act as a liaison between various groups to ensure that nothing is overlooked and to improve communication.

Other intelligence analysts will concentrate on information gathering and interpretation, as well as strategic planning. These teams will need to be able to gather information from unusual sources and interpret it effectively.

They will have to improve existing databases, respond to intelligence requests, and search for patterns in massive amounts of data.

In an intelligence career, you can work in your home country as well as in embassies and military bases around the world. You may also be embedded within an army to help coordinate intelligence programs and gather information.

An intelligence officer may also be assigned far from home and may spend a significant amount of time on the road. You may even find yourself in a perilous situation; most intelligence analysts have trained in self-defense and the use of lethal weapons.

How to get a career in intelligence

If you want an Intelligence career, you must be prepared for fairly rigorous career requirements. This job role typically requires you to have bachelor’s degrees in intelligence studies, national security, or political science, as well as some experience in areas such as cryptology, intelligence collection, or military or foreign service.

Also, critical thinking, analytical, problem solving, decision making, communication, interpersonal, and foreign language skills are required for intelligence careers, as well as the ability to pass a background investigation or obtain a security clearance, and proficiency with industry software used to perform classified tasks.

Following the completion of the hiring process, there will be extensive on-site training. This will vary depending on the department for which the analyst works and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Most agencies that hire intelligence analysts will require applicants to pass a drug test and have no criminal history.

How do I become an intelligence analyst?

If you are interested in Intelligence Careers, here is a list of steps you can take:

  • Get a bachelor’s degree
  • Pursue a master’s degree
  • Work in a related field to gain experience
  • Fill out an application for a position in the M15 graduate training program.

Get a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is the first step toward getting an Intelligence career. Intelligence job applicants with degrees in any discipline are typically hired by intelligence agencies, though graduates in languages, information technology, mathematics, and technology are preferred. A separate recruitment drive for intelligence analyst candidates with degrees in languages or technology is sometimes held.

Pursue a master’s degree

Consider completing a master’s degree to help your application stand out among other candidates. While a bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level positions in Intelligence careers, some employers may prefer applicants with postgraduate degrees.

So consider pursuing a master’s degree in data science, computer science, or mathematics. You can pursue a master’s degree in intelligence, which will specifically develop your abilities in research, critical analysis, and management.

Work in a related field to gain experience

Participation in any type of project management can help strengthen your application for an Intelligence career job role. The recruitment process is competency-based, and active membership in clubs and societies can assist in demonstrating teamwork skills. Highlight any experience working in a position that requires discretion, such as a legal receptionist. If you don’t have this experience, try to get a volunteer placement or mention transferable skills.

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Fill out an application for a position in the M15 graduate training program

To become an intelligence expert in the US, you must complete a rigorous training program administered by the Security Service (MI5). The initial entry-level training program lasts two years, followed by three years of training while working for the agency. The Government Headquarters Agency (GCHQ) also posts graduate entry-level jobs. You can pursue ongoing training and skill development opportunities as an intelligence analyst throughout your career.

Intelligence Careers Skills

Individuals who want to work in intelligence should work on the following skills while earning their degree and gaining hands-on experience.

Problem Solving

Intelligence experts must be adept at problem-solving. They should be able to recognize complex issues and gather information on the subject. They must also be able to discuss the implications of new versus current and recurring issues. The most important aspect of problem-solving is assessing and analyzing information to determine potential solutions.


It is critical for intelligence experts to have strong verbal and written communication skills. A solid understanding of international relations, politics, and economics, as well as the ability to communicate about these topics with others, is required for the job. These abilities aren’t just useful for advancing one’s career; they can also help save lives and contribute to global strategy development.

Research and Writing

Intelligence analysts must be able to conduct extensive research as well as write reports.

Decision Making

As tasks may include making real-time decisions involving international crises and crimes, so you must be self-starters who work well under pressure. Also, you have to be able to sift through large amounts of information and data, such as statistics and reports, and analyze and apply that data to make decisions. Knowing how to use analytic tools and access databases is one aspect of this.

Information technology skill

Because modern intelligence analysis is heavily reliant on computer systems, intelligence analysts must have a thorough understanding of computer systems for everything from communicating with team members to collecting and analyzing data. Those without a degree in a technology-related field can obtain IT certifications.

Open-source intelligence 

Anything that you can find freely on the internet is considered open-source intelligence. This could include information from a website, a social media page, or publicly available data such as census data. OSINT is used by Intelligence careers professionals to detect flaws in security networks, identify threats, and research market trends. With so much information available on the internet, intelligence analysts must be able to determine which information is relevant and where to find it.

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Best degrees for intelligence careers

Even though there are no specific education requirements for Intelligence careers, it is assumed that their expertise is founded on a solid education in fields such as foreign affairs and communications.

Bachelor’s degrees in political science, economics, history, and computer science are common.

Graduate degrees are common in this field, with many professionals holding master’s degrees in subjects like:

  • International affairs
  • Intelligence
  • International relations
  • National security
  • Terrorism studies
  • International Business
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Economics

Intelligence analysts must be proficient in both written and oral communication, as well as have superior analytical abilities. Furthermore, many intelligence analysts have some type of language training, and the majority have a subject matter or region/country expertise.

Intelligence career salary

In the United States, intelligence jobs’ salary range from $67,779 to $93,020, with an average salary of $81,215. An intelligence specialist’s salary can be influenced by a variety of factors, including their level of experience, education, and the industry in which they work.

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FAQs about Intelligence Careers

Is intelligence a good career?

Intelligence analysts have a promising job outlook. In 2019, Forbes named “intelligence relations” one of the college majors with the highest salaries and the best career prospects.

Is there an intelligence degree?

Yes, for instance, the bachelor’s degree in intelligence studies from AMU provides the knowledge and skills required for professional roles in the intelligence, national security, and corporate sectors of the United States.

What is the intelligence field?

Intelligence is information gathered within or outside a country or organization about threats to our nation, its people, property, or interests; the development, proliferation, or use of weapons of mass destruction; and any other matter affecting the national or homeland security of the United States.


There are appealing intelligence careers because the jobs are both challenging and rewarding. Competition for better-paying jobs in the intelligence community is fierce; the best opportunities go to those with the background of critical skills mentioned earlier.

Intelligence analysts, particularly those who have cyber security as part of their skill set, are in high demand. Additionally, those in a more senior intelligence analyst role earn a higher median salary (93K/year), especially as they advance to a Government Program Manager role.

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