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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Networking: Attend industry conferences, meetups, and other events to connect with professionals in the intelligence field.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

intelligence analysis

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.

intelligence agencies
Volunteer Opportunities

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:

protect national security
Military Service

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

Professional Organizations and Publications for Homeland Security

Professional Organizations and Publications for Intelligence



Skills Often Required in the Field of Intelligence

Critical Thinking 

  • Using logic and reasoning to identify threats and formulating an action plan 

Reading Comprehension 

  • Understanding written information 

Complex Problem Solving 

  • Identifying complex issues and emerging threats
  • Reviewing related information to develop and implement solutions

Active Listening 

  • 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



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