While Hollywood draws interest in the CIA’s work, it’s important to know that spending your professional life at the CIA is still a government job. But maybe a desk job is a good thing, since most people can’t live life on a constant adrenaline rush. The reality is that as the information world continues to multiply, the need for analysis on focused areas has also increased. While you need to have a big picture view of the events around the world, it’s also helpful to hone in on specific issues like foreign weapons development or emerging threats. If you’ve always enjoyed understanding how different capabilities can turn on a dime for our country, then the Science, Technology, and Weapons (STW) analyst role at the CIA could be the right position for you.
What the Science, Technology and Weapons Analyst Job at the CIA Entails
The CIA states that the STW analyst will apply “scientific and technical expertise to analyze foreign weapons development, weapons proliferation, cyber warfare, and emerging technologies.” This analyst role works closely with “regional specialists, military analysts, collection officers, and other Intelligence Community professionals to provide accurate, all-source estimates of foreign intentions and capabilities to senior decision makers.”
While entry level salary is only a shade over $58,000, candidates who are at the top of the range can earn almost $160,000. So, regardless of where you are at on the education and experience spectrum, the CIA could have a position for you. The STW analyst needs to at least have a bachelor’s degree in the science fields – anything from chemical engineering to computer science to physics. While this role has a strong technical focus, applicants are required to submit two writing samples with their resume, cover letter, and transcripts. Writing is a component of communicating intelligence findings, so it’s important to showcase your style, research abilities, and critical thinking skills. Technical understanding is critical, as well as communication capabilities, but it’s also important to have interest and knowledge of international affairs.
CIA jobs are based in Washington, D.C., but there are opportunities for foreign and domestic travel and assignments to other offices. Language skills are helpful – you can even score a bonus with them, but the CIA also provides opportunities for language training. It’s clear that while this may be an analyst role, the subject matter will constantly be changing, and you will have to continually adapt to new technologies and issues.
Working for the CIA
The CIA focuses on leveraging the power of information to keep the nation safe, which requires a team of experts. Diverse ideas, experiences, and skills are needed to make the CIA tick. Foreign intelligence analysis , covert actions, and innovative technologies support the different branches of the U.S. government, as well as the DoD and other agencies within the intelligence community.
CIA Clearance Considerations
Jobs at the CIA will require a security clearance. In fact, be prepared for a Top Secret plus full scope polygraph. But what you also need to be prepared for is the potentially long wait time to get your clearance and actually start working. While things can move quickly in the beginning, some have found that after making it through the interviews, the time from initial SF-86 to polygraph was only about five months; however, many complain of waiting to hear a response about their clearance decision and start date for a year or two. While the DoD has worked to make their timelines a little bit clearer, some of the other agencies tend to march to the beat of their own adjudicating drum. And while you’re trying to clean up your life in order to make the cut, one thing you should cut ties with is the CIA’s social media sites. While some companies might appreciate your social media connection with them, the CIA makes it clear on their website that tweeting their updates and being friendly with them on their different channels is considered a no-no.
It’s no surprise that CIA employees need to be honest, forthcoming, and patient. If you stick out the application and clearance process, you might just make it at the agency.