We read ClearanceJobs.com for a lot of reasons. But we likely share one common denominator: either a fascination with or appreciation for what it means to be in the know, read-in, on the inside, deep undercover.

We’re intrigued by people like CIA’s oldest spy Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh, who helped us win WWII. We’re amazed that someone next door could be another Martha Peterson, CIA’s Cold War warrior and mother of two, one of the first women deployed to Russia to spy for the United States. Peterson’s first husband, John, was a Green Beret and, later, CIA operative in Laos, where he gave his life for the country in a helicopter crash. Or we wonder if we could really do it like Douglas Laux, who went from blue-collar Indiana to the CIA and, then, to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Could you do it? Laux told us that “there’s a lot of folks like me . . . . Let me tell you,” he said, “it ain’t easy. If you ever can get used to having six different names and answering your phone in five different languages, lying to everybody who loves you most, then you’re a stronger man than me.” Movies, from Charlie Wilson’s War to Mission Impossible and everything in between, let us live, for about 140 minutes, the life of clandestine operatives.

But to follow in any of these footsteps, first you have to apply. And it’s not that difficult. ClearanceJobs.com’s Peter Suciu lays out requirements, training, missions, and more in “Spy Training: What It Takes to Make it in an Intelligence Career.”


Business Insider’s Jacquelyn Smith interviews former CIA employee Brian Goral, who shares his view of “what it was really like to have a top-secret job.” For Goral, who in 15 short years in the CIA traveled to some 30 different countries, his yearning started early, and he fulfilled the desire, first, with an internship. According to Goral, “They are searching for people who are sharp and loyal, with a real desire to be there,” and Goral ended up with “an absolutely massive application packet” on his desk. That was the first step.

Over the years, Goral found that his work with the CIA was as exciting as it was eye-opening, and not necessarily in the ways we first might imagine. For instance, his trips to different countries put his own life in the United States in some perspective. And, as is so often true in jobs that we enjoy, it’s the people with whom we work that make it so difficult to leave. Goral says, “For every gun-rights activist at the CIA, there is a coworker who wants reform right now. For every devout Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu in the building, there is someone who prefers the scientific exploration of the universe.”

Goral’s is a sober, candid, convincing look inside the CIA. And just like the stories of McIntosh, Peterson, Laux, and, yes, Charlie Wilson, he makes you want to give it a go.

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.