The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) was formed in 1947 when President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act. At the same time, the Director of Central Intelligence, or DCI, position was created to serve as the primary advisor to the U.S. President regarding all matters related to national security. The responsibilities of the DCI position were modified with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 which places some of the roles formerly filled by the DCI under the Director of National Intelligence. Since the Agency’s inception, earning a job at the CIA has been popular amongst both military veterans and graduate students who have desirable skillsets for Agency work.
Intelligence activities have been carried out since the Revolutionary War for the United States. It has only been since World War 2; however, that they have coordinated on a national-basis. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed William J. Donovan as the Coordinator of Information and later the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1942. The organization would become what we know as the CIA today with the mandate to collect and analyze strategic information until it was disbanded after the war.
It only took two years for President Harry Truman to realize that the country had a need for a centralized intelligence organization after the war. In order to create a fully functional intelligence organization, he signed the National Security Act of 1947 which formally created the CIA and tasking it with the coordination of all of the nation’s intelligence activities. These responsibilities include evaluating, correlating, and disseminating intelligence which impacts national security.
At the end of 2004 (on December 17th), President George W. Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. This act restructured the Intel community by getting rid of the Director and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence and creating the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency position (D/CIA). The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) was also created in order to better oversee both the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and the Intelligence community.
What Does the CIA Do?
The Central Intelligence Agency is responsible for collecting, correlating, and evaluating all available sources of intelligence related to the national security of the United States. The Agency is also responsible for dissemination of the intelligence developed; however, is not permitted to have police, law enforcement, or internal security functions within the United States. By functioning as a separated U.S. Government agency, the CIA is charted to be an independent source of intelligence analysis on topics of concern for the country. It is also charged with coordinating efforts with other Intelligence Community organizations to help ensure that policy makers and warfighters get the best intelligence available when required.
The CIA helps meet global demands through a number of inter and intra Agency efforts. These include the creation of multidisciplinary intelligence centers to address specific, high-priority threats to the nation’s security including: counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, nonproliferation, narcotics trafficking, arms control intelligence, and international organized crime. Additionally, the Agency takes an active role in the Intelligence Community analytical efforts and creates all-source analysis covering all topics related to national security. Employees of the CIA help fulfill the Agency’s goals by using all manners of intelligence gathering (imagery, national assets, human, and open sources), and can find employment in a large variety of fields.
What Types of Jobs Are Available at the CIA?
All jobs at the CIA help contribute to the Agency’s primary goal of protecting the national security of the United States. There are a large number of jobs available at the CIA that range from operations to computer engineering. Some of the primary job fields available for employment at the CIA include: analytical positions, business, IT and security positions, clandestine service positions, language positions, science, engineering, and technology Positions, and various student opportunities. The clandestine service positions are further broken down into: operations officers, collection management officer, staff operations officer, targeting officer, and paramilitary operations officer / specialized skills officer. The CIA’s paramilitary operations officer candidates will normally be trained in the CST (Clandestine Service Trainee) program. The Specialized Skills Officers will find employment in directly supporting CIA operations making use of their special skills (tech, aviation, maritime, etc).
It is important to note, that the CIA is pretty upfront about potential employees not telling more people than need to know about applying for a job with the Agency. Knowledge of the person’s employment by one or many people can result in a loss of flexibility on future employment by the potential new employee. The CIA recommends that applicants to the clandestine services actually protect the fact they are applying or thinking of applying for clandestine related work.
How to Apply for a CIA Job
Step 1– Ensure you can provide documentation proving U.S. citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, the CIA will not hire you.
Step 2 – View the available job fields and opportunities available on the CIA website and do your research before submitting a job application. You will want to review each of the career paths available at the CIA and find available positions the Agency is currently seeking to fill with a qualified applicant. Each of the career paths will have minimum requirements and notional salary ranges for your consideration.
Step 3 – Note up to four job positions that you are interested in filling across the various career paths at the CIA. You cannot apply for more than four positions on the initial job application; however, some would recommend you limit your options to two or three to avoid appearing to be schizophrenic.
Step 4 – Create an account on the CIA’s career application center website by clicking the “Create Account” menu button on the webpage. Once you have created an account, you will have only three days to complete and submit the job application. After the three day period has lapsed, the CIA will delete your account.
Step 5 – Search for the select up to four positions with the CIA. You can do this within the jobs portal by using the “Job” and “Category” menu options. This information will be very similar, if not the same, as that you viewed when searching the “All Career Opportunities” page on the CIA portal.
Step 6 – Select between one and four positions that you meet the minimum requirements for from the CIA jobs portal. You will want to make sure that you only have a serious interest in filling, or you could find your job application assessment delayed as you move through the process. A CIA recruiter will review the application and make an assessment of your job skills as compared to those required under the job posting.
Step 7 – After choosing the job positions you are interested in filling, you can begin filling in the CIA “Application Package.” Note that you need to budget some time to complete the application as there are three separate forms that request detailed information about yourself. If you decide to add job positions after starting the job application package, you will be returned to the “Expertise” section of the CIA job application to provide additional information.
Step 8 – Before starting the job application, you will want to ensure you have the required information collected. This includes but is not limited to: your work history and background, job expertise to include number of years, knowledge, skills, and abilities, and education completed to include work concentrations. Under your work history, you will need to be able to provide a comprehensive listing of employment with valid explanations for any “white space” of significant time. The Agency will also be interested in any past military experience, foreign area knowledge, languages and associated proficiency levels, and any certifications or licenses you possess that are relevant to the job(s) you are applying to fill.
Step 9 – Complete the Personnel Evaluation Form (PEF). In this form, you will be asked to provide information regarding: current or past security clearances, background investigations, polygraphs, Selective Service (if applicable to yourself), DD-214 and information regarding any military disciplinary proceedings. Other information required in the PEF includes any employment issues, drug use and activity, violations of the law, criminal convictions, any Peace Corps association or employment, and any delinquent federal debt. In order to be considered suitable for CIA employment, an applicant must have not used illegal drugs within the past year. If you have used drugs prior to the 12 month period, it will be carefully evaluated during the security and medical processing portion of the job application.
Step 10 – After you complete the entire CIA job application package, you will need to save and print your forms. You will likely find it necessary to use the forms throughout the job application process. After submitting the job application by clicking the “Submit” button, the job application account will be disabled.
Step11 – After clicking the “Submit” button, you will see a confirmation message displayed on the web page. This is the only acknowledgement that is sent to the individual. If you submit multiple job applications, it will slow the review of the application and ultimately delay a decision on the part of the CIA on whether or not to move to the next step with you for a job at the CIA.
Step 12 – If considered suitable for employment, be prepared to undergo a thorough background investigation by the CIA. They will take a hard look at your life history, character, reliability, trustworthiness, and soundness of judgment. The CIA closely looks at any potentially conflicting allegiances you may have, the potential for you to be coerced, and your willingness to follow regulations. During this stage of the hiring process, you will also undergo physical and mental evaluations that pertain to the essential job functions you will be expected to perform.
National Clandestine Service Jobs
If you are interested in more “mercenary-like” or operations-based employment through the CIA, the National Clandestine Service offers two entry-level programs: the Professional Trainee (PT) and the Clandestine Service (CST) program. The PT program is tailored to job applications that have a bachelor’s degree but do not have significant work experience. PT applicants are typically between 21-25 years in age, and are normally assigned to a series of HQ-based jobs to expose them to the core aspects of the National Clandestine Service. After successfully completing the PT program, employees can proceed to the CST if they have received favorable reviews during the PT.
The CST program is designed for individuals in the 26-35 year age bracket who have at least a bachelor’s degree and substantive work or military experience. Other minimum requirements for the program include a preference for a 3.0 GPA or higher as well as a strong interest in international affairs. The ability to write clearly and accurately as well as foreign travel and area knowledge are also desired. The ability to speak a critical foreign language such as: Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Indonesian, Korean, Pashton, Persian, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Kurdish, or Urdu will provide an advantage to the job applicant. Some of the college degrees of interest for the CST program include: economics, physical or nuclear science, international business, finance or international relations, and biological or chemical engineering. For both the PT and CST programs, applicants will be expected to complete the requirements annotated above for other CIA jobs as well as completing two personal interviews.