How To Become a CIA Agent

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: September 28, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Criminal Justice
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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.

How To Become a CIA Agent

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:

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:

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:

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:

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, 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:

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:

In order to pass the Physical Fitness Test, you will need to achieve the following:

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.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.