It isn’t easy to become an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but it is definitely worth the effort. The CIA is one of this nation’s most important, respected and secretive federal agencies. CIA agents are involved in covert actions around the world in an effort to gather foreign intelligence. Agents also keep tabs on foreign terrorists and others who would threaten US security, and safeguard secrets that keep this country safe. The state of Virginia is the hub of CIA activities in the United States.
The CIA in Langley employs a vast number of CIA professionals. The exact number of people working at Langley is classified but positions are available for a vast array of specialists, including:
- Computer programmers
- Human Resource specialists
- Information Technology specialists
- Public Relations personnel
- Special Agents
Most employees work and live in the Washington DC area although special agents have many opportunities for assignments overseas.
How to Become a Core Collector with the CIA’s National Clandestine Service
In Virginia, there are two entry-level programs for individuals wishing to pursue a field based Core Collector career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service.
- The Professional Trainee Program (PT)
Designed for applicants between the ages of 21-25 with no previous work experience. Applicants are required to have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree to apply for this position.
- The Clandestine Service Program (CST)
Designed for applicants between the ages of 26-35 with several years of military or work experience. Applicants are required to have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree to apply for this position.
Each applicant must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an interest in international affairs. Candidates should also have superb communication and interpersonal skills.
Preferred degrees for the Core Collector position include:
- Chemical or biological engineering
- Nuclear or physical science
- International business
- International relations
Other requirements for these positions include foreign travel, previous residency abroad, cross-cultural understanding and proficiency in at least one foreign language including:
Each applicant will be required to complete two personal interviews, undergo a complete psychological and medical examination, extensive background investigation and a polygraph interview. To be considered for the position, candidates must also be free from any illegal drug use for the previous 12 months, which is determined during the security and medical screening process.
Meeting the Requirements for CIA Special Agent Investigator Jobs in Virginia
All specialists and special agents are required to have a bachelor’s degree or better from an accredited four-year college or university, and three years of law enforcement or criminal investigations experience. Candidates often hold a bachelor’s or master’s degrees in a relevant field such as criminal justice, law enforcement, homeland security, cyber crime, or international affairs.
Virginia has more than 30 accredited public and private four-year colleges and universities as well as a few law schools. Virginia-based candidates can also opt to earn a degree online.
Additional requirements for special agents jobs:
- Grade point average of 3.0 or higher in bachelor’s program
- U.S. citizen between the ages of 21 and 35
- Three years experience in criminal investigations or a related field
- No illegal drug use in the last 12 months
The following qualifications are highly desired but not strictly required:
- Able to speak a second language, especially Arabic or a related tongue
- Experience living abroad
- Successfully completed the Criminal Investigation Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA. Those who have not completed this training must do so within the first year of employment.
Individuals whose applications are accepted will be required to pass a very extensive background investigation, medical and psychological evaluations, a polygraph and two interviews. The entire process can take as long as a year.
CIA Training Grounds in Camp Peary, Virginia
Training for new recruits in the CIA’s Clandestine Service Division takes place at the highly classified Camp Peary, affectionately called “The Farm.” This 9,000-acre military camp near Williamsburg, VA is boot camp for special agents. It is one of the nation’s most secret federal facilities. According to U.S. News & World Report, recruits learn “all things clandestine,” such as:
- Bugging telephones
- “Hideaway” places to pass and receive information
- Kinds of foreign weapons
- Handling improvised explosives
- Counterterrorism tactics
- Evasive driving skills
- Reading maps
- Trailing suspects
- Interrogation techniques
The CIA University in Virginia
CIA University is an educational facility located in Chantilly, Virginia. It was founded in 2002 as a continuing education facility for both new and seasoned employees. The university’s 200-300 courses are continually updated to stay current. Most courses are two weeks long and include such subjects as:
- 16 languages
- Information technology
- Defensive driving
- Geography of certain regions
- Communication skills
- Project management
- The intelligence community
- Money laundering
- Chemical weapons
- Dirty bombs
CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia
Langley, once a separate area, became part of the city of McLean in 1910; however CIA headquarters are nonetheless referred to as being in Langley. The 258-acre compound lies eight miles from downtown DC. It contains the old headquarters building, new headquarters building, an auditorium, memorial garden, CIA museum and the popular “Kryptos” sculpture.
Old Headquarters Building (OHB) – Completed in 1961, the OHB contains 1,400,000-square feet of office and technical space as well as a library with 124,000 books and 1,700 periodicals, a memorial wall, photograph galleries and numerous historical artifacts.
New Headquarters Building (NHB) – two six-story office towers are built into a hillside and connected by a four-story atrium that features three one-fifth-scale-models of important CIA aircrafts – the U2, A-12 and D21 drone. Opened in March of 1991, the NHB is “seamlessly” linked to the OHB.
Auditorium – The 7.000-square foot auditorium seats 410 people and is called “The Bubble” because of its igloo-like shape.
Kryptos Sculpture – American artist John Sanborn’s “S” shaped copper sculpture dedicated in November of 1990 holds four encrypted messages that challenge employees. Three of the four have been solved but the fourth remains one of the world’s best known unsolved codes that continues to tantalize code breakers.
The CIA also owns nearby “Scattergood,” a former 32-acre country estate that is now operated as a conference center.