If you want to work for one of the largest U.S. Federal Agencies, you might want to learn how to become a CIA Agent. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has several branches and employs many different people with different skill sets.
There are several opportunities throughout the CIA. Choosing a career with the CIA also offers many growth opportunities. Before you decide to become a CIA agent, you should understand what this type of career includes.
Job Duties of a CIA Agent
When you become a CIA agent, you will work as a federal employer. You will be in charge of collecting and evaluating intelligence information that has to do with the security of the country. It’s very common for CIA agents to work overseas, but you may also work in the United States.
The common job duties for a CIA agent include:
- Looking at any type of data that has to do with national security
- Reviewing foreign publications including magazines, newspapers, and others to find intelligence information
- Examining images from satellites to look for threats
- Finding and deciphering any coded messages used by other countries
- Figuring out if the information found is credible
- Creating reports for authorities based on the intelligence gathered
- Coming up with technologies to help with gathering data and intelligence
- Working with other agencies to solve crimes and terrorism
There are many duties you will likely take on as a CIA agent. These are just a few of the things you will likely be doing on a regular basis.
How to Become a CIA Agent in 6 Steps
Step #1 – Complete high School
You will need a bachelor’s degree to become a CIA agent. This means you will need to complete high school. It’s best if you can score high on the ACT or SAT, as well. With a high GPA and high test scores, you can get into a better college or university.
Step #2 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
Getting a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement will help you on your path to becoming a CIA agent. If you get a degree in computer science, it can also help with this career path.
Make sure you keep your grades up in college. You will need a GPA of 3.0 or higher to become a CIA agent.
Step #3 – Earn a Master’s Degree (Optional)
It can be very helpful if you get a master’s degree. You want to be the best choice for the open CIA agent position. Getting a master’s degree will help you stand out.
A degree in technology, security, or foreign affairs is preferred. This can give you a stronger resume when applying to become a CIA agent.
Step #4 – Learn a Foreign Language
It can be very helpful to become fluent in at least one additional language. CIA agents often work overseas and learning a foreign language or two can really help you with this career path. Some of the languages you might want to consider include:
If you’re fluent in one or more of these languages, you can become an asset for the CIA.
Step #5 – Get Some Experience (Optional)
Another thing you can do to help build your resume before applying to the CIA is gain some experience. If you go into the military or work in law enforcement, it can help move you along this career path faster.
It can also be helpful if you live in a foreign country or work in a foreign country. During college, studying abroad can be helpful. If you can work abroad, that’s even better.
The CIA will also offer co-ops and internships for those looking into this career path. These are typically paid internships to give you a chance to gain experience, while in college. The internships come in five categories:
- Enterprise and Support
- Foreign Language
An internship can certainly help build your resume.
Step #6 – Complete the Internal Training Program
After you have applied to become a CIA agent and you have made it through the hiring process, you will enter the internal training program. this training will include basic policy and procedures training. you will also be trained based on the type of position you will hold.
For example, if you will be going into clandestine service, you will complete an 18-month Clandestine Service Trainee program. Each area of expertise has a different type of training program.
Basic Requirements to Become a CIA Agent
You will need to meet specific qualifications to become a CIA Agent. The basic requirements include:
- High School diploma or GED
- Military, law enforcement, or security experience preferred
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Need to be in good physical shape
- Must be in good emotional and mental health
- Need to have a valid driver’s license
- Need to be willing to work overtime, nights, weekends, and holidays
- Must be willing to travel overseas frequently
- Must have excellent communication skills
- You need strong interpersonal, analytic, and organizational skills
- Ability to negotiate conflict
- Strong leadership skills
- Ability to interact with CIA Management, Federal Agencies, and Department of Defense entities
- Must have a high level of loyalty to the United States
- Need to have a high level of trustworthiness and integrity
- Must pass the Physical Fitness Test
- Must be a U.S. Citizenship
- Must pass a background investigation
Those with experience in a military special operations force, such as SEAL, Ranger, Recon, MARSOC, PJ, or SF, will likely have an advantage. SWAT officer or protective operations experience can also help. You can also put yourself above the competition with any of the following:
- Experience in management and leadership
- Deployment experience in a War Zone
- Bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree
- Medical experience as a Navy Corpsman, Paramedic, EMT, 18D, or First Responder
- Strong knowledge in protective operations
- Experience with Microsoft Office
- Report writing experience
All of these skills and experiences are preferred by the CIA when hiring agents. If you want to know how to become a CIA agent, consider adding any or all of these to your resume.
These requirements and preferences may vary, depending on the type of position you are applying for. Many CIA agent positions will require a bachelor’s degree, but it’s only preferred for others.
Frequently Asked Questions About Being a CIA Agent
How much can I make as a CIA agent?
According to CIA.gov, the starting salary for a CIA protective agent is between $80,027 to $95,920. If you have three years of investigative experience, you can earn between $75K and $136K as a CIA agent.
Your actual salary will depend on your position and your experience. In some cases, you can earn more by going overseas, as well.
What type of benefits do I get as a CIA Agent?
The CIA website lists many different benefits you gain when you become a CIA agent. These benefits include:
- On-site walking paths
- Access to fitness facilities
- Health Insurance including dental, vision, and long-term care insurance
- Paid time off
- Sick Leave
- Access to a daycare facility
- Flexible scheduling
- Paid overtime for holidays, nights, and other shifts
- Retirement benefits including a 401K plan and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
- Student Loan repayment
- Continuing Education options
These are just some of the many benefits you can gain as a CIA agent.
What does the Physical Fitness Test include?
You will need to complete six different fitness tests as a part of the Physical Fitness Test. These include:
- Max number of sit-ups
- Max number of pushups
- Max number of pull-ups
- 300-meter sprint
- 1.5-mile run
- 185-pound Dummy Cross load
In order to pass the Physical Fitness Test, you will need to achieve the following:
- 31 sit-ups
- 25 pushups
- 4 pull-ups
- 68 seconds or less on the 300-meter sprint
- 1.5-mile run in 13:30 or less
- Dummy Cross Load in 62 seconds or less
If you fail any of these physical tests, you will be removed from the hiring process.
Are there restrictions for those wanting to become a CIA agent?
Yes, there are a few restrictions. you will need to be at least 18 years of age and under 35 years of age. It’s also necessary to be a U.S. citizen. If you are married, your spouse will also need to be a U.S. citizen.
What type of background checks are necessary for CIA agents?
If you want to become a CIA agent, you will have to pass several background checks. You will go through a standard criminal background check, along with a drug test. A credit check is also necessary, along with a polygraph test.
Becoming a CIA agent may seem like a very exciting career. If you want to go down this career path, it’s best to make sure you understand the requirements and preferences. Before you choose the right career path for you, make sure you understand how to become a CIA agent.
With the right degree, experience, and training, you can enjoy a successful career as a CIA agent.