20 Tips How to Get Into the CIA
If you're smart, have a college degree, are ready to serve your country, and are ambitious, becoming a part of the CIA is a future career option for you. But getting on with the CIA can be tricky since each open position receives so many applications. To stand out from the others, it’s important to know what the CIA wants. Below are a few things you can do now to improve your chances.
1Be a U.S. citizen
Before placing your application, you’ll be expected to be a U.S. citizen.
2Learn a foreign language
America is a land of many languages and, like other law enforcement agencies, the CIA is searching for workers who know how to speak them. If possible, master a foreign language, particularly Spanish, since the number of Spanish-speaking residents is growing by the year. Another good language to consider learning is Arabic, the official language in several Middle Eastern countries.
3Consider applying for the CIA’s Graduate Studies Program
If you’re in the early years of earning your graduate degree, the CIA offers a Graduate Studies Program. Participants in the CIA’s student programs will be evaluated for future job opportunities with the agency upon graduation. The CIA encourages interested students to discuss the opportunity with student advisors, but the application process is outlined on the CIA’s careers page.
4Keep your record clean
This is imperative for anyone considering a career with the CIA. When you apply to the CIA for employment, you submit to a thorough background check. Any criminal activity, including DUIs or arrests for illegal drug possession, could stop you from being hired. In addition to a background check, applicants also are given a polygraph examination, as well as a medical check to ensure the applicant is insufficient physical and emotional health to perform required job duties.
5Be physically fit
You will be put through rigorous physical testing and it will be expected that you can manage the physical tests. As well as the benefits of keeping fit, getting involved in both team and individual sports regularly prove to your future potential CIA employers that you're willing to stay in shape, work in teams, and maintain your general health and well-being.
If you do choose to pursue a career as a CIA agent, the agency urges applicants to be discreet during the application process. While it may be tempting to tell friends and family about your application, the CIA urges against this, stating that, “their interest may not be benign or in your best interest.” The agency advises you to keep news of your application under wraps.
7Familiarizing Yourself With the CIA
While the spying side of the CIA might be the seeming glamor filled side you're hankering after, the Directorate of Operations (or "clandestine service" where the spies are located), is but one part of the CIA and a small part at that. The majority of CIA employees work in analytical positions, language positions and science, engineering, and technology positions.
8Be prepared to work long hours
The CIA is not necessarily a 9-to-5 operation. Depending on your position with the agency, you might be required to work long hours and weekends, which can make having a personal life challenging. A career with the CIA is a commitment, so it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you apply for the position.
9Be prepared to relocate
The CIA’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C., so at the very least, you’ll be spending time there during training. Once you’ve been sufficiently trained, if you’re an agent you’ll need to be flexible in where you live to be eligible for the best assignments.
10Consider getting experience in law enforcement or homeland security
The CIA also gives high marks for military service, especially if you were stationed overseas during wartime.
11Do not have a criminal record
Naturally, this includes not having participated in any activities against the USA's interests, whether or not these were criminal.
12Don't take drugs
The CIA states that you cannot have used illegal drugs within 12 months of your application or background check process. Illegal drug use at any time in your past can hurt your chances, however, so it's best to avoid any illegal drug altogether. Also, don't abuse legal drugs, like alcohol or prescription drugs, as these can provide evidence of your character and future likelihood of re-abusing.
13Be financially sound
This means that you don't gamble, over-invest, have a poor credit repayment record or have a bankruptcy in your background. No intelligence service wants to take a risk on a person who has poor financial management skills and is potentially open to bribery.
14Have a good work track record and ethics
Whatever jobs you've had already, ensure that you've always given your best, being honest and ethical, and worked hard. Demonstrable loyalty and accountability in any work environment is an asset to your application.
15Be highly trustworthy, reliable, and faithful
Background investigators will ask questions of people in your circle of acquaintances including family and friends. If they feedback positive information about you, this is good for you, as their assessment of your character builds.
16Understand the importance of maintaining confidences and confidentiality
If you love to gossip, being in the CIA probably isn't a good choice for you; you'll need to be able to demonstrate that you can abide by regulations regarding the use, handling, and protection of sensitive information.
17Have squeaky clean parents and friends
While this may not always be possible, it's enormously helpful because any family member or friend with shady leanings could be a source of weakness for you if they fall into a spot of bother (aka "potential for coercion"). If issues are surrounding this, talk to a CIA career agent about your options, and always be truthful.
18You may be working under a contract
Some positions with the CIA require the employee to sign a multi-year contract before taking the job. These positions are not full-time employees but offer many of the same benefits as the CIA’s full-time workers. At the end of a worker’s contract, the CIA is not obligated to hire that employee and the contract can be terminated at any time.
19Be honest and candid
Expect to be tested as much as it is possible to ensure the veracity of what you're telling the CIA. If accepted for the interview process, as well as periodically during employment, you'll be subjected to a polygraph.
20Visit CIA website for more info
Official CIA website: https://www.cia.gov/careers/