CIA Agent Career, Job, Degrees and Training Information

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a relatively new organization. In 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act, establishing the CIA. The CIA collects and analyzes intelligence and conducts covert operations at the behest of the President of the United States. The CIA's primary law enforcement and intelligence mission is to collect information about foreign governments, foreign individuals, and foreign corporation, and to provide credible information and advice to U.S. public policymakers. The CIA conducts covert both paramilitary actions and covert operations, and exerts a substantial amount of foreign political influence via its Special Activities Division. In 2004, both the structure of CIA and as responsibilities changed dramatically. Before December 2004, the CIA was the main intelligence collecting and analyzing organization for the US government; it oversaw and coordinated not only its own activities but the also those of nearly the entire US Intelligence Community (IC). The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act which was passed in late 2004 established the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which in turn took over a substantial amount of the US government and US Intelligence Community intellegence responsibilities. The DNI now manages the IC and consequently the entire intelligence cycle. The functions that moved from the CIA to the DNI include the preparation of estimates of the consolidated opinion of the 16 IC agencies as well as the preparation of briefings that are given to the President of the United States.

The CIA does not create foreign policy. It simply gathers intelligence for the President and the National Security Agency to develop policies. The CIA monitors the locations of nuclear and chemical weapons, terrorists, and drug cartels. In sum, the CIA gathers information about foreign countries to provide the US the ability to create sound domestic and foreign policy designed to protect the interests of the Unite States.

The CIA's factbook states their duties are to:
  • Provide information supported by evidence about national security
  • Conduct counterintelligence and other foreign intelligence activities as directed by the President
The CIA's responsibilities are also determined by circumstances. The CIA will respond differently to a potential terrorist attack as they would to a potential global crisis. Individuals interested in a career with the CIA should be aware that the agency serves an advisory role, and only a few people participate in secret, spying operations — as glamorized and portrayed by Hollywood.

CIA Clandestine Services Agents

The CIA's Clandestine Service is considered the to be the domestic and international agency at the front-line of intelligence gathering on critical international developments, from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction to highly sensative political and military issues. As such, CIA missions frequently require clandestine service agents to live and work overseas for extended periods fo time, making a true career (and life) commitment to the Agency. Working as a CIA officer (a.k.a. "agent") in the clandestine services division is much more than just a typical job – it's a unique way of life that will challenge your personal intelligence, self-reliance and responsibility in ways that no other career will. The CIA's Clandestine Service Officers have very diverse backgrounds and life experiences, language capabilities, professional and educational histories, and other unique and qualifying attributes and characteristics that allow them to meet mission critical objectives.

Within the clandestine services arm of the CIA there are a number of career positions that fortunate candidates can choose from. These include the following:
  • Operations Officer

    Operations Officers serve are deep in the intelligence collection business and are primarily responsible for clandestinely recruiting and managing sources of foreign intelligence. This position requires special skills and extraordinary professional discipline in order to establish and maintain the necessary human relationships that result in high-value intelligence gathering from clandestine sources. An CIA Operations Officer must be able to effectively hand fast-moving, ambiguous, ever-changing, and highly unstructured situations and adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances. This career requires exceptional physical and psychological health, energy, intuition, 'street smarts' as well as an almost superhuman ability to deal with stress. CIA operations Officers spend the majority of their time living abraod on overseas assignments. Operations officers are the CIA "agents" represented in most Hollywood movies.

  • Collection Management Officer

    The Collection Management Officer (CMO) is the link between the Clandestine Service Operations Officer in the field and the US foreign policy community and Intelligence Community analysts. This individual is tasked with responsibility of managing the collection, evaluation and dissemination of CIA intelligence information. Managing the intelligence collection effort requires the ability to determine what intel US policymakers need to receive and then communicating the intelligence gathering requirements to the Operations Officer in the field. To be effective, the CMO must have an indepth understanding of how Clandestine Service operations work and how they are carryied out and managed abroad, a knowledge of current international issues and be intimately familiar with overseas operating environments.

  • Language Officer

    The Language Officer for the Clandestine Services operations arm of the CIA employs specialized foreign language skills, expertise and experience to provide various Clandestine Service operations with high-quality translation, interpretation and language-related support. In addition to providing expert language services, CIA Language Officers must provide in-depth cultural insight – an important dimension of their job and important element of other career offices they support in the field. Language Officers work closely with together with other Clandestine Service disciplines – particularly field collectors – to support effective and efficient foreign intelligence acquisition. As with other Clandestine Service jobs, travel abroad and specialized training are important elements of this career position.

  • Operations Officer – Specialized Skills Officer

    Specialized Skills Officers carry out specialized intelligence operations as part of the CIA for US policy makers in particularly austere and hazerdous overseas environments. Military special operations, special forces, or combat arms experience (air, ground, or maritime), specialized combat service/training, previous foreign travel, and foreign language proficiency are highly valued for this position.

CIA Inspector General – Special Agent/Investigator

CIA Special Agents, a.k.a. CIA Special Investigators, conduct high profile and extremely sensative inquiries into possible violations of U.S. laws, rules, and regulations; gross waste of funds; mismanagement; abuse of authority; or substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety within the CIA. Special Agents work independently and as members or leaders of investigative teams. Foreign travel opportunities as well as international assignments for CIA agents are very common. Position duties are similar to the Special Agent 1811 job series but the position does not come with the entire range of replica watch fakefederal law enforcement authorities (nor pay and retirement benefits) found in the 1811 job series.
In addition to becoming an Agent in the clandestine services or CIA inspector general the CIA offers a myriad of career opportunities. To explore a complete selection of career opportunities with the CIA you can visit

CIA Agent Educational Requirements

The Agency will evaluate a person's life experience and job related expertise when applying. Intelligence analysts, overseas officers, and other non-clerical employees must possess a bachelor's degree while a post graduate degree is preferred. Any specialized job related training will is advantageous.

CIA Agent Salary, Earnings and Wage Information

The CIA does not release information about their agents’ income but applicants can expect to earn between $74,000-$155,000 annually. However, experience and education can increase an agent’s salary.

Before applying to work at the CIA, be aware the process is long, competitive, and applicants are required to go through a thorough background check. However, if you are selected, you will be well paid and enjoy generous benefits.

Source: US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics,,

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