CIA Agent

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a fairly new agency. The CIA was organized in 1947 by the National Security Act. The CIA gathers and evaluates intelligence and organizes covert operations under the direction of the U.S. President. The CIA's main intelligence and law enforcement mission is to gather intelligence about foreign governments, individuals, and companies and provide this information to elected officials. The CIA organizes paramilitary and covert operations and influences foreign governments through its Special Activities Division. During 2004, the CIA's organization and duties were altered dramatically. Prior to 2004, the CIA acted as the U.S. government's primary intelligence gathering and analysis agency. It was responsible for coordinating and supervising intelligence operations for most of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 setup the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). This agency is responsible for supervising the IC. The DNI is now responsible for summarizing intelligence collected by 16 IC agencies into briefings that are submitted to the President.

The CIA is not responsible for developing foreign policy. It collects intelligence and submits it to elected representatives, the National Security Agency, and the President. The CIA conducts surveillance on drug cartels, terrorists, and locations where weapons of mass destruction are stored. To summarize, the CIA collects intelligence about foreign threats to inform elected representatives responsible for protecting American citizens and interests.

According to the CIA's Factbook, its responsibilities include:

  • Submitting factual information about foreign threats to elected officials
  • Conducing foreign and counterintelligence activities under the direction of the President

The agency's duties are circumstantial. It responds differently to terrorist threats than it does international crises. People interested in CIA careers should be advised that few individuals participate in covert operations and advisory roles that are glamorized in popular movies and television shows.

CIA Clandestine Services Agents
The CIA's Clandestine Service is responsible for working on the front-lines to collect intelligence about terrorist plots, important international developments, and foreign political and economic developments. As a result, CIA agents participating in clandestine activities are often required to work and live in foreign countries. CIA agents employed within the clandestine services division are assigned very challenging tasks, different from most professions, where their intelligence, physical and mental stamina, and self-reliance are frequently tested. Clandestine service agents come from various educational, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, typically speak foreign languages, and possess unique skills and qualities that enable them to fulfill their job responsibilities.

There are various career opportunities within the CIA's clandestine services division to select from, including:

  • Operations Officer
    Operations officers are responsible for recruiting individuals to provide intelligence and organize clandestine intelligence collection operations. Operations officers must be very skilled and disciplined, possess excellent interpersonal skills, and understand foreign cultures to effectively recruit and maintain relationships with foreign intelligence assets to collect vital intelligence. These specialists must be able to adapt when circumstances necessitate it, work in fast-pace settings, and handle unstructured circumstances. Operations officers must be mentally and physically healthy, be street and book smart, and manage stress effectively. They spend most of their time working in foreign countries. Operations officers have been popularized in movies and television shows as the clandestine and fearless agents working behind the scenes to collect intelligence.

  • Collection Management Officer
    Collection management officers (CMOs) serve as liaison specialists between elected officials, intelligence analysts, and the Clandestine Service Operations Division. This specialist is responsible for supervising the collection, analysis, and dissemination of classified intelligence. To effectively do this, collection management officers must understand what types of intelligence elected officials need before assigning operations officers specific duties. CMOs must possess in-depth knowledge of how clandestine specialists operate in foreign countries and understand foreign issues, laws, and customs.

  • Language Officer
    Language officers within the CIA's Clandestine Services Division speak foreign languages, possess expertise in foreign cultures, and have experience living in foreign nations to provide clandestine agents with excellent language support, interpretation, and translation services. Additionally, CIA language officers specialize in foreign cultures. Language officers frequently collaborate with other clandestine service specialists, especially field collectors, to assist them as they collect foreign intelligence. CIA language officers are required to travel frequently and complete periodic specialized training.

  • Operations Officer - Specialized Skills Officer
    Specialized skills officers are assigned intelligence operations in foreign countries, typically in hostile or dangerous regions. Operatives with combat, especially special forces experience, extensive foreign travel experience, and foreign language aptitude are highly sought after for this job.

CIA Inspector General - Special Agent/Investigator
CIA special agents, also known as CIA special investigators, participate in internal investigations into suspected federal law and regulation violations, public fund mismanagement, public health violations, and misconduct within the CIA. Special 0investigators conduct investigations in teams and individually. They frequently travel and complete foreign assignments. These specialists share duties similar to agents classified within the Special Agent 1811 job series, but they do not enjoy the same pay and benefits or have the same law enforcement responsibilities.

There are numerous other opportunities available within the CIA. For additional details about all CIA careers go to

Education Requirements
The Agency will assess an individual's applicable work and life experience during the application process. Foreign officers, intelligence analysts, and other employees working in non-clerical positions are required to hold a bachelor's degree, but those with master's degrees will receive preference. Additionally, specialized job training will enhance your opportunities.

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