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CIA Careers

Career Description

A CIA Agent is a law enforcement officer who works for the Central Intelligence Agency, a department belonging to the federal government.

Common Work Tasks

  • Uncover information that helps U.S. officials design policies that are sensitive to the international political, economic and social climates
  • Conduct surveillance, monitor court-authorized wiretaps, examine business records, investigate white-collar crime, and participate in sensitive undercover assignments
  • Confer with collection management officers
  • Research and identify sources of information
  • Collect and analyze information about foreign governments, corporations, and persons in order to advise public policymakers
  • Assess existing and emerging threats to US national security and provide the most senior policymakers, military planners,  and law enforcement with analysis, warning, and crisis support
  • Send analyses to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations
  • Identify, monitor, and analyze the efforts of foreign intelligence entities, both national and non-national, against US interests
  • Deal with threats to U.S. computer systems

Other Job Titles

CIA Agents are also known by other titles, including:

  • Intelligence Analysts
  • Information Analysts
  • Intelligence Officers
  • Issues Analysts

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Most CIA agents have either a bachelor’s degree or related work experience or a combination of the two. CIA agents undergo extensive training at their training center in Camp Peary, Virginia. Most CIA agents must be fluent in another language, have excellent writing skills, and under the age of 35.

Candidates should enjoy working with people and meeting the public. Because personal characteristics such as honesty, sound judgment, integrity, and a sense of responsibility are especially important in law enforcement, candidates are interviewed by senior officers, and their character traits and backgrounds are investigated. In some agencies, candidates are interviewed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist or given a personality test. Most applicants are subjected to lie detector examinations or drug testing. Some agencies subject sworn personnel to random drug testing as a condition of continuing employment.


The median annual salary for a CIA Agent is $50,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $76,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $29,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of CIA agents are:

  • Federal Executive Branch- $47,970

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  17%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 18,000
  • Employment 2006 : 106,000
  • Employment 2016:  124,000
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