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How To Become a CIA Agent?

how to become a cia agent

The CIA is one of the largest and most prestigious federal organizations in the United States. And conducts operations both in the US and abroad.

The CIA employs thousands of individuals with very wide-ranging skill sets. Safeguarding and maintaining the national security of the citizens of the United States is the top priority, and if you’d like to play a part in that, a job at the CIA might suit you just fine.

Before you can line up for a badge and gun, though, you’d better get your facts straight as to what you’ll be doing, what you’ll get paid for doing it, and what the actual process of becoming an agent entails. All this will be laid out in the following article.

So, let’s get started and find out exactly How To Become a CIA Agent…

how to become a cia agent

Possible Roles and Responsibilities

CIA agents are federal employees who collect and evaluate intelligence pertaining to national security. Furthermore, they are tasked with safeguarding that security from any and all threats, whether they be international or domestic. Some CIA agents are employed to work overseas while most work in the United States.

The Duties and responsibilities of CIA agents may be limited to or exceed the following:

  • Obtaining and analyzing data and information pertaining to national security from either international or domestic sources.
  • Reviewing international news and other media for any and all information that possibly pertain to national security.
  • The examination of satellite photographs and video material in order to monitor potential threats.
  • Codebreaking and deciphering of correspondence that can pertain to national security and or terrorism.
  • Determining the credibility of information from foreign media and other sources.
  • Generating reports pertaining to national security for various government authorities.
  • Performing research and development into technology that can help with the investigation and gathering of intelligence.
  • Working with various other domestic and international organizations to investigate crime and terrorism.


The average salary of a CIA agent is calculated at $81,207 per year. The salary range is from $25,000 to $169,000 a year. Depending on your previous experience and the area in which you’ll be working, your salary can vary greatly, as well as the rate by which it increases with time.

The Process

There are many steps to becoming a CIA agent. From getting in on your own steam to perhaps being recruited by the agency itself, you can also apply from programs made available by the agency.

Broadly speaking, you’ll have to attain the required Academic qualifications, receive special training, and finally pass tests set by the CIA. Again, it is possible to become an agent in a myriad of ways. The following steps should therefore not be seen as the set in stone path to becoming a CIA agent.

1 Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

As mentioned, the CIA has the need for persons with a broader range of skills than is possible to cover in a single article. The skillsets and knowledge base in demand by the agency can undergo changes. Therefore, do some research, and make your choice depending on where it is you want to end up in the CIA.

Many agents have degrees and advanced degrees in criminal justice and law enforcement, but degrees in computer forensics can also be useful. As a rule, the agency looks for students who maintain a GPA of 3.0.

how to become the cia agent

2 Consider getting a master degree

While having a master’s degree is by no means required by the agency, it will vastly improve your chances of obtaining employment. It is also likely that you will qualify for higher-paying positions if you have an advanced degree in whichever field you’re seeking employment in. Agents often have master’s degrees in areas like security technology and foreign affairs.

3 Try to become fluent in at least one foreign language

Being able to speak a foreign language will go far in making you more appealing as an employee to the agency. This will be almost a must if you intend to be placed overseas. Middle eastern languages are especially in demand by the CIA because a large amount of surveillance and intelligence gathering takes place there.

Being able to speak the language will likely mean the agency can use you to translate foreign documents and correspondence gathered by other intelligence operatives. It is also a requirement if you intend to pose overseas as a foreign national.

4 Gain the relevant experience

Experience in any field may be beneficial to meeting requirements for working at the CIA. Generally, having experience in any of the following is considered ideal for working at the agency:

  • Any branch of the military, especially intelligence and security
  • Law enforcement
  • Private security
  • Computer forensics
  • Data analytics

If you have any experience living and or working in a foreign country for extended periods of time, it will help your application. Plus, if you find that you have a natural aptitude for adapting to different environments, it will also count in your favor.

If you’re a student at the moment and would like to try and get a head start, the CIA even offers paid internships and co-ops in a number of fields to test potential candidates and give them a feel for what they’d be letting themselves in for. These are great because you get paid while gaining experience while still studying.

Generally, these come in five categories: analysis, clandestine operations, STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), enterprise and support, and finally, foreign languages.

how to become cia agents

5 Complete relevant tests and medical examination

Anyone who wants to apply to join the agency must keep in mind that they will at some point have to pass a background check, drug test, credit check, and a polygraph. Furthermore, you will most likely have to be willing to live and work in Washington if you plan on being employed in the United States. Furthermore, you must have a clean criminal record.

6 Finish the internal training programs

As soon as your application has been successful and you’ve been accepted to join the agency, you will likely begin multiple training programs.

Firstly you will undergo a basic training program, which all employees must pass. This will orientate you as to the basic policy and protocols of the CIA. Secondly, you will undergo more specialized programs, determined by the specific field for which you have been selected. The clandestine and directorate of operations programs can last as long as 18 months.

Looking for Career Paths into the CIA?

Then check out our informative Crime Scene Investigator Job Description, our Police Officer Job Description, as well as the most common Police Officer Interview Questions you will be asked in 2023.

You may also be interested in learning the Steps to Land a US Federal Government Job as well as Government Agencies with Remote Jobs and Flexible Work.

There are also some great resources that will help you on your way t becoming a CIA agent. So check out How to Become a Spy: A Guide to Developing Spy Skills and Joining the Elite Underworld of Secret Agents and Spy Operatives, How to Analyze People: Discover All the Secret Techniques of an Ex-CIA Operative Officer, to Speed Reading Anyone and Uncover Their True Intentions, Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception, and How to Become a Spy: The World War II SOE Training Manual.

Final Thoughts

If you find that you like to travel, can easily adapt to foreign places, cultures, and people, and have the correct qualifications, the CIA could be a very satisfying career path for you. Or perhaps you just want to play a role in safeguarding the security of your country and don’t mind living in D.C.

The CIA needs many kinds of agents, but a dedication to national security and an understanding of the importance of intelligence is central to the larger purpose you’ll be serving. Take care to keep your record clean, try to get ahead with studies or early application to one of the programs offered b the CIA, and keep an eye out for opportunities to gain relevant experience. Most importantly, do your research and do it early.

All the very best with your career in the CIA.

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