The Responsibilities of an Intelligence Professional
Hiring managers may gravitate toward candidates who possess relevant, hands-on experience that complements their education. Whether you want to secure a career in national intelligence, homeland security, geospatial intelligence, or international affairs, it's often a good idea to gain a diverse set of experiences.
There are several ways to gain experience in the intelligence community:
- Education: Pursuing a degree in a relevant field such as international relations, political science, or cybersecurity might help to provide a strong foundation for a career in intelligence.
- Internships: Many intelligence agencies and organizations offer internships to students and recent graduates. These internships provide hands-on experience and can lead to full-time employment.
- Networking: Attend industry conferences, meetups, and other events to connect with professionals in the intelligence field.
- Voluntary work: Look for volunteer opportunities that align with intelligence work, such as serving as a member of a local emergency management team or participating in a cybersecurity or intelligence-related online group.
- Military service: Military service might also provide valuable experience and training for a career in intelligence.
It's important to note that many intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), have strict hiring requirements. You must be able to complete a background check and obtain a security clearance before you can obtain a national security job, so it's essential to have a clean criminal record and good credit history.
How Can I Build Intelligence Experience?
At American Public University, we offer several degrees for those interested in pursuing an intelligence career.
One of the best ways to gain real-life experience is through an internship, such as a fellowship, volunteer, co-op, and the federal government's pathways program.
Agencies such as the DHS, CIA and FBI frequently have internship opportunities posted on their website. It may take some research, but the skills you will develop as an intern are often invaluable.
Volunteering provides you with special skills and you may even make substantial contributions to an organization. Your current employer may have volunteer opportunities, or you can research local opportunities that exist. There are many national organizations that provide opportunities for volunteerism, such as:
Consider serving in an intelligence-related role in the military (Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard) to help gain experience in the field of intelligence.
Expand your Connections in the Intelligence Community
As technologies grow, so do the threats to our country. Intelligence professionals from both government agencies and the private sector are active in organizations and news outlets so that they may share information on topical issues- and identify and mitigate threats. Building meaningful connections with employers, recruiters, mentors, and professionals within intelligence agencies may help you learn more about a specific field. Below are some of the top intelligence organizations and information outlets.
Professional Organizations and Publications for Cybersecurity
- ASIS International
- Center for Internet Security
- Cyber Security Intelligence
- Cyber Security Research Alliance
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association
- Information Systems Security Association
Professional Organizations and Publications for Homeland Security
- American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International
- The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International
- Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS)
- The International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP)
- The Blog @ Homeland Security
- Committee on Homeland Security
- Homeland Security Affairs Journal
- State Homeland Security and Emergency Services
- U.S. Department of State Official Blog
- U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs
Professional Organizations and Publications for Intelligence
- Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)
- Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP)
- International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA)
- Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA)
- Military Intelligence Corps Association (MICA)
- Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP)
- National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
- Women in Defense (WID)
- Women in International Security (WIIS)
- Using logic and reasoning to identify threats and formulating an action plan
- Understanding written information
Complex Problem Solving
- Identifying complex issues and emerging threats
- Reviewing related information to develop and implement solutions
- Giving full attention to others
- Asking questions when appropriate
- Understanding the information presented and not interrupting
- Conveying information effectively
- Writing clear statements
- Knowing the correct terms used in your intelligence organization