The following is a brief recap of the Intelligence and Security Alliance’s recent panel, “Beyond the Big 6: Careers in the Intelligence Community.”

Career opportunities in intelligence abound beyond the “big six” agencies–the CIA, DIA, NSA, FBI, NGA and NRO.  There are nine other agencies to keep in mind, as well as U.S. Congress and the business sector.

In fact, working for a lesser-known agency’s intel department has distinct benefits.

“We’re frequently punching above our weight,” says R. Stockton Butler, Director, Nuclear Material Security at the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, U.S. Department of Energy. Working at a smaller intel department can secure you a prime seat at the table within the greater intelligence community (“IC”) as well as more face-time with your department’s Secretary or CEO.

Here are some lesser-known opportunities within the intelligence community.

Department of Energy

DOE’s intelligence division focuses on three areas: climate change, energy security and nuclear proliferation.  You’ll likely need a technical understanding of the field(s) to secure a job.  Be sure to check out the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) at DOE, which offers jobs from entry level to executive, as well as opportunities for students and even the NNSA’s own Graduate Program.

Drug Enforcement Administration

The DEA is a relatively small agency that houses a relatively small intelligence department within.  Drug investigations can unearth intelligence supporting a variety of national security concerns including terrorism, organized crime and general support of law enforcement.  The agency offers intelligence positions internationally—just ask Carrie N. Thompson, Intelligence Staff Coordinator at the DEA, whose DEA intel career took her to Bogota, Islamabad and Brussels.

The DEA hires Intelligence Research Specialists from all levels of experience including recent college graduates, highly experienced specialists, and experienced managers. Check out their Intelligence Research Specialist Brochure.

Transportation Security Administration

TSA is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.  Its “Intelligence and Analysis” division’s primary work is to gather intelligence and set the standard for aviation security internationally. You don’t need a background in aviation to secure a spot.  According to Frank B. Johnson, Senior Intelligence Analyst at TSA’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis, a logistics-oriented mind and the ability to communicate and collaborate well within a team (skills he honed in the U.S. Air Force) often mean the most.

Capitol Hill

The intelligence oversight committees within the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives offer another avenue to the IC.  As a committee staffer your primary responsibilities will be to review intelligence reports, budgets, and activities at DoD, DHS, State Dept., etc., and advise your member.  Staffers investigate matters on behalf of the Committee and prepare legislation.  There is also quite a bit of budget work to be done, too.  Both the House and Senate post employment opportunities and offer resume banks where intelligence committee openings can be found.

Private Business

The business sector of intelligence supplies commercial clients with much-need information that only a highly-skilled and inquisitive mind can uncover.  Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among some private companies recruiting investigative minds who are skilled at translating technical language and knowledge to a policy-making audience.  Kari Crowley, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence Services at Deloitte Advisory, began her career as a private investigator before landing her current role where she maximizes her ability to scour open-source archives and media as well as technical databases.


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