What is Intelligence Analysis?

Intelligence analysis is a process of collecting and generating intelligence from multiple sources such as data and information. The process usually involves accumulating information about a variety of circumstances and individuals who have knowledge in areas that include strategy, operations, or tactical intelligence. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, “Intelligence analysis is the application of individual and collective cognitive methods to weigh data and test hypotheses within a secret socio-cultural context.”

An intelligence analyst gathers information analysis. Private corporations, public companies, and the military employ these professionals. The United States Army defined an intelligence analyst as someone who “is primarily responsible for the analysis, processing, and distribution of strategic and tactical intelligence. They are integral to provided Army personnel with information about enemy forces and potential battle areas.”

Bachelor’s Degree

You can start with a bachelor’s degree in the major of intelligence analysis. A select number offer such a program. For example, the Bachelor of Science in Intelligence Analysis is for students who seek a career as an intelligence analyst (in either the U.S. government or the private sector). Students learn innovative ways to structure their thinking to solve complex real-world problems when there is both time pressure and a lack of reliable information. The program highlights the continually evolving nature of intelligence analysis, with an emphasis on employing new academic research into analytic methods.

A similar degree is the Bachelor of Science in Intelligence Management, as referred to by some learning institutions. Such a program introduces the student to the concepts of intelligence gathering, analysis, and reporting. While earning this degree, the student will understand how intelligence manifests itself in many ways. During the coursework, students will acquire an astute and open mind to determine how to analyze and understand intelligence.

This degree may also cover topics pertaining to national security. This includes the study of religious extremism, chemical, biological, and radiological/nuclear weapons.

Here are examples of courses you can expect while taking the Intelligence Management degree:

Protective Security Law– This provides an examination of the legal standing of civilian security personnel, with emphasis placed on the responsibilities of security personnel.

Terrorist Techniques– This course deals with the strategies, tactics, and methods used by terrorists. Students will learn to distinguish between clandestine and semi-clandestine operations.

Information Security– Students will learn how to secure a computer network through such measures as proactive vulnerability analysis, firewalls, and secure remote access.

Master’s Degree

At the graduate level, some of the degree names are Master of Science in Security and Intelligence Studies, Master of Arts in Strategic Intelligence and Analysis, Master of Security Studies in Intelligence, Security Studies, and Analysis, and more. Many are available online and residency learning formats.

The curricula will vary with each program. The goal of these programs is to provide analysis and production skills that are crucial in the intelligence analysis process. This includes the evaluation, integration, and analysis of all the intelligence data. This might consist of detailed reports as well as single-source and all-source studies.

You want a program that provides the knowledge and skills professionals need to excel in intelligence analysis, operations, military-political studies, law enforcement, corporate security, cyber-intelligence, and computer security. To accomplish this, some degrees integrate more science and technology with advanced intelligence and security courses.

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Other Considerations

Experts in this field stress that this is a research job. You could be working in a metropolis, in a high-rise building, in a cubicle. Working in this type of research requires excellent writing skills. Even if your particular analysis job doesn’t require you to produce written reports, the essence of your job will be to distill lots of information into an argument. Then you must structure that argument in a way that withstands intense scrutiny. An intelligence analyst must be able to gather facts and communicate what those facts mean.

Other experts in the profession advise college students, who want to work in intelligence, to concentrate your curriculum on classes that require seminars, laboratories, and independent study. Instead of lecture-based courses. The subject matter is less important. Chemistry research, historical research, ethnography research…it’s all of interest to the Intelligence Community.

Where can I work?

In a 2016 article in The Nation, they stated that for the first time since spy agencies began outsourcing their core analytic and operational work in the late 1990s, the bulk of the contracted work goes to a handful of companies: Leidos, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSRA, SAIC, and CACI International. General Dynamics owns CSRA. CACI provides information solutions and services in support of national security missions and government transformation for Intelligence, Defense, and Federal Civilian customers. Booz Allen stands as a colossus over U.S. intelligence as a contractor and consultant for over 30 years.

SAIC is a well-known military contractor that has expanded into spying by buying Scitor, a company deeply embedded in the Pentagon’s top-secret satellite operations. Leidos is one of the most powerful companies in the intelligence-contracting industry, which is worth about $50 billion.

These companies and a host of others provide ample employment opportunities in the intelligence community.

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