A job with the CIA is one of the most exciting law enforcement jobs available. The stereotypical "James Bond"-style spy job that most people associated with CIA agents is the job of a CIA Clandestine Services Core Collector. These agents work overseas, helping to collect and organize foreign intelligence information for the CIA in the interests of US security. By many, the CIA is considered the summit of law enforcement jobs - but just what does it take to become a CIA agent?
The basic qualifications to join the CIA are among the most stringent in law enforcement jobs. The requirements to become a CIA agent include being a US citizen, holding a bachelor's degree, having effective communication skills, great writing skills, and possessing a demonstrated interest in international affairs.
Because they are often privy to classified US government information, future CIA agents must pass high-level security clearance. There can be no doubt regarding a CIA agent's trustworthiness with classified government information. Candidates must have no criminal record, and must undergo polygraph testing, background checks, drug testing, and numerous personal interviews.
Because CIA agents work in foreign countries, foreign language skills and experience traveling abroad are also considered great assets for a CIA career. The Agency is especially interested in candidates who have lived abroad and/or are fully fluent in a foreign language. If you want to work as an international CIA agent, it's important to realize how essential travel is to the career.
Law enforcement jobs with the CIA require agents to be incredibly mobile. CIA agents must be willing and able to relocate to whatever region of the world they are assigned to, and are often required to pack up and travel or relocate on short notice. Being open to this mobile lifestyle is essential to being a CIA agent.
Combining the incessant travel and the fact that CIA employees are required to be very secretive about their jobs, it can be extremely difficult for CIA agents to maintain personal relationships. For example, if you're a CIA agent and you start dating someone, you most likely will not be permitted to reveal to your new boyfriend or girlfriend what you actually do for a living! The element of secrecy that most CIA agents are required to have in their lives is essential to consider before you decide to pursue a career in the CIA. In this respect, being a CIA Agent is one of the most emotionally taxing of law enforcement jobs.
So what happens if you meet all the requirements, pass all the tests, and get accepted into the CIA? Successful candidates undergo an intense 12-month Clandestine Services Trainee (CST) Program where they learn a wide range of skills including firearms training, foreign language training, and more. The goal of training is to create CIA agents who will be able to serve independently collecting intelligence information overseas. After training is successfully completed, new agents are deployed on their first assignment.
For those individuals who are interested in working for the CIA but don't qualify to work as agents abroad, or aren't able to meet the travel requirements, there are other law enforcement jobs available in the CIA. Some jobs at CIA headquarters in North America may be an option for people unable to meet the relocation requirements of being a CIA Clandestine Services Core Collector.
Whether it's a desk job or working as an agent abroad, CIA jobs require intense dedication and secrecy. Many people would say that it's one of the most exciting law enforcement jobs available, and it's arguably the closest a person can plausibly get to being a real life James Bond. Lisa Jenkins writes about careers in law enforcement for JobMonkey.