Jobs at the CIA

CIA logo on floor of CIA headquarters
CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Alex Wong / Getty Images

None of the thousands of career opportunities in government service generate more interest among readers than those offered by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In response to many of your questions, here is the latest information about finding and getting jobs at the CIA.

Basic Requirements for All CIA Positions

Before seeking any position with the CIA, you should know that the following requirements will apply:

Are You CIA Material?

Also, visit the CIA’s Mission, Vision, and Values, and Today’s CIA web pages for a good description of what the CIA does and what kind of people they are looking for.

What College Courses Should You Take?

The CIA does not recommend any one academic track over another. CIA employees come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds.

Types of Jobs Available

The CIA hires to fill both immediate and ongoing needs for personnel in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Here are just a few examples.

Clandestine Services

AKA — spies.

Or, as the CIA says, "...the vital human element of intelligence collection. These people are the cutting edge of American intelligence, an elite corps gathering the vital information needed by our policy makers to make critical foreign policy decisions."

Much more than stealth is required to land one of these trainee positions.

At a minimum, you need a bachelors degree, outstanding grades, great interpersonal and communications skills, and "...a burning interest in international affairs." A master’s degree is even better. Being fluent in foreign languages, military experience, and experience living abroad will help, too.

Good college degrees to hold include international economics and business and the physical sciences. Look for starting salaries to range around $34,000 to $52,000 per year.

Needless to say, the background check is extensive, unforgiving, and will include a ride on the polygraph.

The maximum age for Clandestine Services Trainees is 35.

And remember, “We put country first and the CIA before self. Quiet patriotism is our hallmark. We are dedicated to the mission, and we pride ourselves on our extraordinary responsiveness to the needs of our customers,” stresses the CIA.

Scientists, Engineers, Computer Technologists

All the intelligence information gathered by the Clandestine Services folks is processed, analyzed, and disseminated by the Agency Technology Service (ATS), one of the largest and most technically advanced computer installations in the world.

Name a current LAN or WAN topology, programming language, or computer platform, and the ATS does it.

Besides the minimum qualifications, you'll need a bachelors or MS in computer science with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 system.

Where Is the CIA Located?

It used to just be called "Langley." Now, the George Bush Center for Intelligence in suburban Langley, Virginia, on the west bank of the Potomac River, seven miles from downtown Washington, D.C., is the home office of the CIA.

Except for Clandestine Services, most jobs are located in and around the District of Columbia, and the CIA will, "...reimburse new appointees certain costs for personal and dependent travel expenses and shipment of household goods not to exceed 18,000 pounds."

Salaries

Lots of people wonder how spies are paid. The answer is pretty much like regular folks. Pay normally comes every two weeks and employees can get overtime, holiday pay, night differential, Sunday premiums, bonuses, and allowances.

More Questions and Answers

Answers to more of the most commonly asked questions about jobs and working at the CIA are answered on the agency’s FAQ Page