Intelligence officer

Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Intelligence officer


Trench coats, fedoras and cameras that fit on the head of a pin. These are a few of the images that first come to mind when people think of spies, or as they are more correctly referred to, intelligence officers. Although it may seem like something out of a movie it is not. Security, especially the security of a country and its citizens is big business. In the US, intelligence officers are employed by the FBI and CIA, among other agencies. It is the job of intelligence officers to protect the national security of the US.

Intelligence officers are responsible for collecting, analyzing and retaining information on activities that could pose a threat to the security of the US and its citizens. This means investigating terrorism and espionage and other threats against national security. They tend to start out on smaller matters such as investigating potential foreign service officers for the government or on small immigration cases . With experience they will move into more complicated investigative work.

Intelligence officers use covert and intrusive methods, such as electronic surveillance and the recruitment of spies to get the information they want. However, they must have a warrant from a judge to begin electronic surveillance, opening mail or conducting covert searches. Intelligence officers require discretion, focus and the ability to remain calm under pressure. They must be astute observers and focused on getting the job done. They do not generally get to work a 9-to-5 day, as the nature of the job demands they work to protect national security and that can mean anytime of day or night during the week and holidays.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Air Weapons Control Officer
arrow Ambassador
arrow Artillery Officer
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Grand Canyon University
Does Criminal Justice or Justice Studies interest you? GCU has the degrees for you. Explore our Master's and Bachelor's degree offerings today!
Programs Offered:
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
  • B.S. in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • M.S.L. with an Emphasis in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • And more...



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Intelligence officers are interested in security. They are inquisitive and have strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of the diverse cultures of our nation. They must be motivated and able to take initiative as well as work independently and as part of a team. Intelligence officers must also be adaptable, confident and quick on their feet. Proficiency in a foreign language as well as computer capabilities are assets for those wanting to work as intelligence officers.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research by phone, Internet, public records and surveillance
  • Conduct investigations
  • Analyze information and findings
  • Conduct undercover investigations themselves or direct undercover operatives
  • Meet with others to discuss and plan security measures
  • Prepare clear, concise reports on security-related matters
  • There is no typical day for an intelligence officer. Although they may go to work for a 9-to-5 day, officers may have to work at any time of day or night, including weekends and holidays. Intelligence officers must be physically fit with excellent vision and hearing. They may spend most of the day in an office conducting research and making plans for investigations. They may do some work alone and then meet with others later to discuss matters of security and make a plan of action. Intelligence officers may be out in the field doing surveillance or investigating by themselves or with others.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Intelligence officers are employed by the US government.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Intelligence officers may have the potential to move into more supervisory positions in the agencies. They may also choose to leave the agency and branch out on their own as private investigators.

  Educational Paths  
The recruitment process for intelligence officers is lengthy and involved. First, to become an intelligence officer all applicants must possess a university degree from an accredited institution. The subject of the degree is up to the individual. There are a few schools where individuals may take related courses if they are interested but there is no pre-requisite training to apply for the position. Those wishing to be considered for this position must be an American citizen with a valid driver's license as well as be willing to relocate anywhere throughout their career.

Potential intelligence officers will then have to submit an application. Those candidates found to have potential will then be invited to an information session focussing on the role of the agency and the duties of an intelligence officer. A limited number of applicants will then be chosen for an interview. Once the applicant has passed a suitability interview they will go on to a psychological assessment by an agency psychologist.

Bilingual applicants will be required to undergo an assessment of their second language. Those who are not bilingual will have an assessment of their ability to learn a second language and successful candidates will later receive language training.

If they pass this section candidates then go on to a national assessment panel where they will be interviewed in-depth on their motivation, knowledge of the agency and their suitability for employment as an intelligence officer.

Applicants will then have to go through a security clearance which includes an extensive background investigation involving reference checks, verification of personal information, criminal record name checks, security interviews, polygraph testing, fingerprinting and the submission of a financial statement.

Once these steps are successfully completed the applicant will undergo an interview by an executive of the agency to evaluate their overall suitability for this career. A final review of the applicant will then be conducted based on the overall recruiting process to determine if they match the requirements needed for an intelligence officer.

It should be noted that only a limited number of applicants will even get past the first interview stage.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Grand Canyon University
Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!
Programs Offered:
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
  • B.S. in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • M.S.L. with an Emphasis in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • And more...

Post University Online
Experience an education that helps you realize your potential in a way that fits you best. Request more information about Post University today.
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • And more...

American InterContinental University Online

You’re serious about success. With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

At AIU, the Serious U, you can get started to get ahead.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to:

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Generalist
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Homeland Security and Crisis Management
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Corrections and Case Management
  • And more...

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • MS Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement Leadership
  • And more...

Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University was among the first colleges or universities to teach on military bases and has been educating servicemen and women since 1973.
Programs Offered:
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Behavioral Studies
  • MS: Criminal Justice - Criminal Investigation
  • And more...

UEI College

At UEI College, we want you to succeed. We’re like a family and we want you to be a part of it.

Programs Offered:
  • Criminal Justice (11-Month Diploma Program)

Purdue University Global

Building on Purdue's mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized online experience that's tailored to working adults.

Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • AAS in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Crime Scene Investigation
  • And more...

Saint Joseph's University

Saint Joseph’s University is a comprehensive, regionally accredited university. Our national rankings and AACSB accreditation in the Haub School indicate the high quality of our undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs both online and on campus. Guided by a faculty committed to both teaching and scholarship, students develop intellectually, spiritually and emotionally through a unique curriculum, and advanced study in a chosen discipline.

Programs Offered:
  • MS in Criminal Justice - General Track
  • MS in Criminal Justice - Behavior Management Track
  • MS in Criminal Justice - Behavior Analysis Track
  • And more...

Keiser University Graduate School

Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Arts in Homeland Security

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2019 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.