As it turns out, there are more jobs in intelligence than “analyst” or “Java developer,” and because you’re at ClearanceJobs, you don’t have to look far to find them. Here are 5 of the best (and coolest) jobs that intelligence agencies and contractors have to offer that you might not have considered.

1. Public Outreach

Those of us outside of the intelligence community don’t often think about the public side of agencies. CIA or NSA are practically synonymous with “secret,” and while that is accurate to a great extent, the agencies are taxpayer funded (and thus accountable to the public) and like any other arm of the U.S. government, need to recruit good men and women. To that end, the intelligence community and its private sector affiliates need ambassadors, of sorts, to do such (perhaps unexpectedly) vital work as running booths at job fairs, responding to press inquiries, and keeping a robust presence at industry conferences. The secret side of an intelligence agency, it can be argued, is only as strong as its public face.

2. Pen Tester

Under most circumstances, hacking into sensitive government computers will end with you either living under the protection of Vladimir Putin, or living in a federal prison. And yet there are some people whose jobs involve breaking into the networks of the intelligence community and defense industry. Those people are called “penetration testers,” or informally: “pen testers,” or “white hats.” These hackers ply their trade and pry open chinks in a network’s armor. Once in, they see how far they can go—what can be stolen, what can be disrupted, and what sleeper-malware can be planted. What makes them the good guys, however, is what happens next. Having found vulnerabilities, they then find ways to patch the systems in order to keep the actual bad guys out. Prior military might recognize this concept as the most fun part of field training: playing the part of…


The military has a plan for just about everything. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for absolute certain how a squadron, fleet, division, or battalion might respond to contact with the enemy, or even with an unusual non-combat entity. The enemy is crafty, after all, and people’s behaviors are hard to predict. So how do we practice war and peace? By bringing in OPFOR/SITFOR planners. Those are the men and women who leverage their experience, plow through the data, run simulations, and develop training based on the models devised. National security is often compared to a game of chess, and an OPFOR/SITFOR planner’s job is to think six moves ahead and minimize the number of surprises our men and women might encounter. It’s a grim business keeping the greatest military in the world sharp: you’re going to need a good imagination for this one (and you had better believe you’re going to need a top secret security clearance).

4. COG Planner

Doomsday: It ain’t just for comic books and Cormac McCarthy novels anymore. For the most part, when bad things happen to the United States, we’re pretty good at recovering and moving forward. Terrorists attack, and federal agencies work with the states to restore order and rebuild, and the national security apparatus responds at home and abroad in the form of military action, intelligence operations, and diplomacy. What happens, though, in the worst case scenario? What if the federal government is decapitated? What if an atomic bomb is detonated over D.C., or—as in the Tom Clancy novel—the Capitol Building is obliterated during the State of the Union address? These are horrible things to consider, but continuity-of-government planners think about them every day. They figure out how agencies will work together when massive holes are blown in the superstructure of the bureaucracy. They run exercises and work out the policies and procedures to solve problems that turn up. And they do this again and again and again, because there is always a new threat out there. By planning for What Comes Next, COG experts can help stave off anarchy, and save America from becoming a continental Thunder Dome.

5. Contracting/Acquisition Specialist

OK, it’s not as glamorous as planning for the fall of civilization, but if you are a contracting/acquisition specialist, you’ll enjoy great pay and you (probably) won’t have to worry about biological warfare contingencies. So what is the unicorn of a job, you might ask. It works like this: The United States is ever in need of equipment and services, and such things are only growing more specialized and technically complex. Whether the problem involves data backup/recovery solutions for computer networks, or arranging catering for logistically tricky areas, it falls to contracting specialists to find the existing deficiencies in an organization, and determine whether it might be beneficial and cost effective to outsource the solution. Such specialists advise their superiors, solicit bids, and monitor resultant contracts and their progress. And if you’re good at your job, you might stop the continuity of government planner from ever having to do his or her job—a winning situation for all of us.

Related News

David Brown is a regular contributor to ClearanceJobs. His most recent book, THE MISSION (Custom House, 2021), is now available in bookstores everywhere in hardcover and paperback. He can be found online at