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The idea of working and analyzing data that can combat national security threats is something many might find intriguing as a career. However, you can not just start working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) without doing research into requirements and other facets of the career. We breakdown requirements and what you can expect in the daily life of a CIA agent.

Being a protective agent within the CIA is a pretty broad term. This could apply to those working security details at the political level or working in an office environment disseminating security information. We have chosen to look more specifically at the Protective Agent career profile.

Daily Activities of a CIA Agent

One of the first things to understand around the daily activities of a CIA agent is that you work at a very fast pace and will be required to multi-task (several different reports will be worked on in one single day). Depending on your role, you might also become focused around a certain topic or subject matter. Another big part of a protective agents job is communication (both written and verbal). Sometimes your communication that is extended to your superiors can make its way all the way up to some of the highest levels of the CIA and federal government. You will also need to be able to keep a calm and cool head when you get stretched between several different jobs or reports too.

Requirements of CIA Agents

According to the CIA career section you will need at least a high school diploma to become a CIA Protective Agent. While it does not appear that you need a criminal justice degree for this particular career, it does mention that anybody hoping to gain employment should have 7+ years of military, law enforcement, or security experience. A bachelors degree is preferred but that does not mean required (so the right experience could have the same weight as a degree). You will need to research the requirements around that other experience to make sure you qualify for it (and the level of degree it requires). They also prefer candidates that have:

  • Any kind of warzone experience (this could come from active duty military or private security firms)
  • Understand of protective protocol
  • Experience in documentation and reporting

Flexible schedules are also a requirement for protective agents as nights and evening shifts are a common occurrence. This career can require an employment contract that spans for several years placing a bigger emphasis on being able to dedicate a lot of time to this job. Holiday and weekend shifts are pretty common and should be expected in protective agent career. You will also be expected to pass a medical exam and be physically fit (as the job can often demand it). As with many government jobs, you will be subject to a background check/investigation which will look to see if you have used illegal drugs in the past 12 months.

Career Outlook for a CIA Agent

In order to give you a complete understanding of the career outlook and profile around a CIA agent,we utilize ONET summary reports to help you understand. They didn hat have a direct summary around CIA agents but did for Special Agents. At a glance, they show the following data around the career:

  • 2014 Median Wage of $38.40 hourly or $79,870 annually
  • As of 2012, there are 115,000 employees in this career role
  • Projected job growth from 2012-2022 is minimal at less than 2%
  • Projected job openings during that same time period is 27,700.

The actual CIA career profile website lists the salary range for a Protective Agent at $70,095 – $78,592 which puts the ONET estimate fairly in line. While the growth for the career profile as a whole is minimal, check the anticipated growth around your state as it can vary greatly. Also, as this is a government job, make sure to keep up with political and budgetary changes as that landscape can have a great effect on career growth.

CIA Career FAQs

  • How do you even get your first interview at the CIA?: Obtaining an interview with the CIA often starts with the same steps required for any new position. People that are interested in pursuing a career with the CIA are encouraged to review the agency’s website for information about job requirements and documents required for application. If you are interested in pursuing a career, simply submit an application through the department’s website. Applicants that have a strong background in communication, foreign affairs, and research are highly sought after at the CIA, so these are all important skills that can get your application pushed further into consideration. Many applicants that have received a call for an interview have some experience working in fields that include information technology, scientific research, and foreign affairs. If you apply and have the skills and background required for the positions, you could get called in to take part in the interview process.
  • Will I have to relocate?: The CIA offers positions that require employees to remain local as well as many overseas and out-of-state ventures. Depending on what type of position you obtain within the CIA, you could be required to travel regularly and possibly reside in various regions all over the world. While there are many local opportunities for upcoming professionals, relocating can always be an option with new assignments. If you were to obtain a job working for the CIA, the option to relocate may be associated with different job opportunities that are presented to you after being hired.
  • What is the work culture like?: Current and former employees of the CIA often state that the CIA has a collaborative work environment that is pleasant to work in. Others have noted that budget restrictions and other government-related regulations have strained the ability to engage in certain projects, but no barriers exist to a team-centered work environment. Various teams throughout the CIA work together toward common goals. Different expert areas are often working together in order to ensure National Security for all people.
  • Are internships available at the CIA?: There are internship opportunities available through the CIA for those that qualify. The CIA currently offers internship opportunities to High School Seniors, Community College Students, and College Students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prospects are encouraged to maintain a 3.0 GPA and submit an application in order to qualify.

Types of CIA Careers

Cyber Threat Analyst

Cyber threat analyst are an important part of National Security teams. These professionals are tasked with analyzing, monitoring, and assessing threats from foreign entities on U.S. information systems. This can be done through monitoring of computer information systems, data interception, and information review. Using critical thinking and scientific knowledge, threats to U.S. security can be thwarted by professionals in this domain. This position requires applicants to have diverse knowledge of digital forensics and computer information systems. Applicants to this position may be reviewed for past experience in computer information fields as well as aptitude in network systems.

Economic Analyst

Economic analysts are responsible for thorough review, assessment, and communications with foreign entities that engage in activities that are related to U.S. interests. One of the key elements of this area is to determine how economic conditions within other areas of the world have an effect on American safety and economy. These professionals work with teams that cover distinct areas of the world in an effort to provide solid reviews of micro and macroeconomic issues. Applicants to this position should have education and experience in the field of business and economics.

Military Analyst

Military analysts work with the U.S. military and policymakers during the evaluation of foreign military decisions and actions. These professionals work hard to establish solid assessments of a foreign agencies intentions, so that proper planning can take place in the U.S. Military. This can involve working with weapons analysts in specialized teams that work to determine the level of threat of certain countries or terrorist groups. Analysts within this field typically have a history of military experience, critical thinking skills, and strategic analysis capabilities.

Security Professional

Security professionals are employed by the CIA to collect and report on counterintelligence information. There are many diverse sub-fields within this area of the CIA that perform different levels of duties to ensure security. Some examples of positions within this domain are polygraph examiner, background investigations, and computer forensics investigations. These professionals seek to gather information that is relevant to threats toward the United States, plots that involve the United States, or those related to terrorism. The CIA seeks applicants that are highly organized, have great communication skills, and a high level of integrity to fill these positions.

Targeting Analyst

Targeting analysts are called upon by the CIA to work towards dismantling illicit organizations that pose a risk to the United States. These organizations can vary in size and type, so the work completed by employees in this sector can vary depending on the types of organization that are being reviewed. Professionals in this line of work use network analysis and specific datasets to analyze and interpret organizations’ operations to ensure National Security. This sector of the CIA often works from referrals made to their department from Intelligence agencies interested in National Security. Individuals that seek to apply to this position should be creative, have critical thinking skills, and be good at communication.

Counterterrorism Analyst

Counterterrorism analysts are part of a team of experts that investigate foreign terrorist groups in order to implement strategies for identifying specific threats. While focusing mostly on foreign terrorist groups, these analysts work to determine possible methods for terroristic actions against the United States and intercept information that can help deter possible devastation. The goal of individuals within this area of the CIA is to warn the government of possible attacks, disrupt plots, and provide solid defense against these terrorist groups. The CIA is looking for motivated individuals that are capable of complex problem solving skills to fill these positions.

Science, Technology, and Weapons Analyst

As an analyst within this area, professionals will use their skills and expertise in science and technology to understand and interpret foreign weapon development, growing technologies, and their threat to U.S. safety. Analysts in this area work with teams of military analysts and other Intelligence professionals to ensure that our defense is up to date on the latest trends in foreign weapon development. People interested in this position should have a profound knowledge of weapons and technology. Due to the rising need for knowledge in advanced science and technology, those that have experience or expertise in these areas may be preferred for this area.

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