CIA Analyst: Career Guide

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of the central facets of our government's security operations. Its agents and operatives collect information that is vital to our safety as a nation. One of the most important positions in the agency's operations is that of the CIA analyst. Analysts are responsible for the comprehension and interpretation of the information collected by agents in the field. CIA analysts are at the forefront of the fight for our security. They must discover the ties between seemingly unrelated pieces of information so that the United States' interests, at home and abroad, are safe. Opportunities for advancement with the CIA are vast as the agency employs a worldwide workforce. A number of firms actively seek retired CIA analysts for private information analyst work, either in a full-time or in a consultant position.

Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

An analyst performs a number of tasks related to understanding and disseminating information from the field. A large part of an analyst's job is to assimilate various sources of information into clear and concise summary reports. CIA analysts may also:

  • Develop novel approaches to analysis
  • Track international organized crimes and narcotics trafficking
  • Analyze weapons systems
  • Follow developments in countries around the world to assess the risk of war
  • Analyze economic trends both in the US and abroad

Steps for Becoming a CIA Analyst

The requirements for employment as a CIA analyst may vary with the field of specialization, as some analysts research only a specific region or a political faction. Generally, a bachelor's degree in political studies, international relations, or foreign area studies is required. A master's degree or doctorate is generally mandatory for higher-level positions. The CIA places a strong emphasis on comprehension of political systems and their influence on foreign cultures, commerce, and military operations. As a result of the highly sensitive nature of the information an analyst may work with, potential analysts are given an extensive criminal background check which includes a polygraph test and character interviews with friends and family members. CIA analyst applicants must be US citizens.

To become a CIA analyst, you can expect a process similar to the one below.

  1. Earn a degree and/or accumulate the experience required for the CIA analyst position.*
  2. Create an account on the Career Application Center.
  3. Find an open CIA analyst job and complete an application online.
  4. Complete the Personal Evaluation Form (PEF).
  5. Upload your resume and any supporting documents.
  6. Pass a thorough background investigation.
  7. Take and pass a polygraph test.
  8. Take and pass a drug test.
  9. Pass a credit check.
  10. Pass a thorough mental and physical medical examination.
  11. Receive word from a CIA recruiter that your application has been accepted (usually within 45 days).
  12. Be interviewed.
  13. Be hired as a CIA analyst.
  14. Get trained on the job once hired.

*Check the requirements of the job for which you are applying for more details.

CIA Analyst Job Training

The CIA values training and education and, as a result, offers a multitude of training and educational opportunities for analysts. All CIA agents, including analysts, must complete basic training at the Sherman Kent School in Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington DC. The Career Analyst Program, or CAP, provides new analysts with a thorough understanding of how to think, write, and brief according to CIA standards. Training encompasses such topics as writing skills, analytical tools, and counterintelligence issues.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

The CIA has a great need for qualified agents with fluency in foreign languages and offers language learning opportunities to employees. Analysts who speak a foreign language fluently may have career advantages compared to monolingual peers. Former military experience may also prove beneficial, and because analysts may need to study and evaluate information to make informed decisions, former law enforcement experience may benefit applicants as well.

Possible Job Titles for This Career

The Central Intelligence Agency categorizes CIA analysts according to their specific area of expertise. A CIA analyst may therefore have a more specific title such as:

  • Analytic Methodologist
  • Counterintelligence Threat Analyst
  • Counterterrorism Analyst
  • Crime and Counternarcotics Analyst
  • Economic Analyst
  • Intelligence Collection Analyst
  • Leadership Analyst
  • Medical and Health Analyst
  • Military Analyst
  • Political Analyst
  • Psychological Analyst
  • Psychiatric Analyst
  • Science and Technology Analyst
  • Targeting Analyst

CIA Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

A CIA analyst's starting salary varies depending on his or her assignment within the agency. The CIA estimates the starting salary for an intelligence collection analyst can range from $54,308 – $80,505 annually, depending on a candidate's experience level.1 The job outlook for CIA analysts is helped by information growth trends and an increased emphasis on combating terrorism. There are also consistent agent openings due to the retirement of older agents. Annual new job creation within the CIA is largely dependent on the US defense budget and defense strategy.

Analyst Career Interviews

  • Jason R. Collins, Senior FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst and National Spokesperson for the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What type of benefits do analysts enjoy?

Answer: The CIA offers generous benefits packages, including paid time off, federal health insurance, federal life insurance, education and training, childcare services, and access to federal credit unions. Analysts also receive retirement benefits and access to health services.

Question: Does the CIA offer any type of continuing education or training opportunities?

Answer: Yes. CIA analysts have a multitude of education and training opportunities. For analysts who have completed the basic Career Analyst Program, the Sherman Kent School offers intermediate and advanced training courses in such areas as analytic methodologies and leadership skills. Analysts may also take courses, on a part-time basis, at one of several of Washington DC's top universities.

Question: I want to learn a second language. How is that possible once I'm with the CIA?

Answer: The organization's CIA University features both full-time and part-time language training opportunities in such languages as Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

Question: Are CIA analysts allowed to disclose their employer to others?

Answer: Yes. However, the CIA requires that all CIA employees refrain from discussing the details of their work with others, including family and friends.

Additional Resources

1. Central Intelligence Agency:

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