Seekers of wisdom first need sound intelligence.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC- 475 BC)

The National Security Agency (NSA) defined analysis as “the process by which people transform information into intelligence.” Intelligence is timely, actionable information that helps policymakers, decision-makers, and military leaders perform their national security functions. Intelligence professionals transform myriad bits of information into tailored products for these customers, who in turn develop policy and strategy, to determine how the nation will act in the present and in the future to preserve its security.

We divided the benefits into three primary categories, as follows:

1. Employment Opportunities: Work for the Government

There are seventeen member agencies of the U.S. Intelligence Community. This offers a diverse selection of job opportunities. You may seek employment in any one of the seventeen:

  • Office of the National Director of Intelligence (DNI)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
  • Department of Energy (DoE)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of State (DoS)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Department of the Treasury
  • US Navy
  • US Army
  • US Air Force
  • US Coast Guard

The FBI has the most familiarity and the one most concentrated on domestic intelligence. The CIA and NSA play a prominent role regarding intelligence. However, the CIA has the reputation of being the most difficult to gain entry. With respect to the NSA, if you are not a mathematician, linguist or engineer of some sort, they are probably not going to be the best fit.

Intelligence Analysts at the FBI analyze information, provide judgments, and make recommendations to support decision makers to take action to mitigate all threats. Having the right information and guidance is critical to protecting the United States. Their knowledge, recommendations, and strategies help identify and combat threats, while their collaborative networks with state, local and federal partners and with members of the Intelligence Community help mitigate risks before they happen.

However, do not think that the government is the only place to look for a job. There are four dominant players in the intelligence market place. Booz Allen deploys an intelligence workforce of 12,000 cleared personnel; CACI, 10,000; CSRA, 8,000; and SAIC, 6,600. Added together, the five companies employ 44,600 cleared personnel. (The Nation 2016)

2. Assortment of Duties

Intelligence Analysts break down information into key components and contribute to plans of action to understand, mitigate, and neutralize threats. A summary of the key responsibilities are:

Identify threats and provide decision makers with the information they need to combat those threats through intelligence analysis collected by field offices and around the world. From there, develop assessments based on all available information.

Facilitate information sharing by developing relationships, forming networks and collaborating with international, national, state, and local contacts in the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

Use knowledge and understanding of language, culture, and history of specific regions to combat and stay ahead of threats.

Analysts work all over the United States, in embassies, and military bases across the globe. For example, the duties of tactical intelligence analysts may require them to spend time in the field working with local law enforcement agencies.

3. Challenges Your Capabilities

Academically, you can focus on a variety of degrees, but the more logical and aligned majors would be international studies, political science, intelligence analysis, and/or language. There are those in the IC who believe the type of degree is not as important as your ability to conduct research. Research is a skill that you can learn in different college-level courses. Intelligence, on the other hand, is a practice. Moreover, you learn a practice on the job, not in a college class.

A second language for most people is difficult. However, most people do not want to work in the Intelligence Community. Spanish is beneficial but common. Experts advise earning a more difficult language that aligns with our security issues, such as Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Urdu, Chinese, Russian, or Somali.

Effective communication is paramount. Can you communicate analytic products in written, oral, visual, and/or multimedia formats? Think of the job as writing doctoral theses that few people will read.

Do you possess critical thinking skills? You require the skill to scrutinize the information and see it differently that it may have been intended. All sources and data must be evaluated for the possibility of technical error, misperception, and hostile efforts to mislead.

Do you have the temperament to spend hours reading material in various formats? If you are not a researcher-at-heart who loves digging through stacks of information, don’t go through the arduous process of getting the security clearance. As well as enduring the lengthy process of interviews, physical and psychological tests, and training.