The FBI and the CIA may seem similar. They’re both three letter agencies in the intelligence community, after all. But the similarities largely end there. Here are some key differences in the roles of their agents or officers. 

What does an FBI agent do?

FBI agents are law enforcement officers focused on the U.S. Their focus is on criminal investigation. Since 9/11, counterterrorism and counterintelligence have grown in the day-to-day work of the FBI agent. This is a shift from the FBI’s early years fighting prohibition and the mob. In addition to an increasing counterterrorism mission, the FBI has undergone a technological revolution, with increasing emphasis on cyber. While FBI agents spend a decent amount of time on field work, desk duty is often common. 

What Does a CIA OfficeR Do?

CIA officers are focused on intelligence collection to aid US foreign policy. CIA officers work to gather foreign intelligence, seeking to understand terrorist threats that will impact the U.S. Not every CIA officer gets to feel like Jason Bourne. Many CIA positions are desk jobs. If you love the intersection of policy, the economy, and the military, the CIA offers a global career trajectory where you get to see those relationships relate and interplay. And while it may sound cool to think you’ll be an undercover CIA agent, unless you’re a covert officer working in the field, your CIA job won’t require a cover story.

 

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.
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