How to Become a Paramilitary Operations or Specialized Skills Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency

The National Clandestine Service (NCS) within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employs paramilitary operations officers ad specialized skills officers to engage in intelligence operations abroad that may take place in hazardous or dangerous environments.

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As such, paramilitary operations officers and specialized skills officers have backgrounds in combat arms and military special operations, which may include ground, air, or maritime missions. These highly skilled agents also possess extensive combat service experience and foreign language proficiency and have gained considerable experience through foreign travel.

The CIA’s paramilitary operations officers and specialized skills officers are excellent judges of character and possess a high degree of common sense, flexibility, integrity, and honesty.

Who are CIA Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers?

Paramilitary Operations Officers – CIA operations officers are certified core collectors who are responsible for gathering human intelligence and recruiting and handling clandestine human sources.

Operations officers generally have foreign language fluency and have a deep understanding of foreign cultures and areas. Assignments for operations officers are usually in the areas of:

  • Capabilities and intentions of rogue nations
  • International crime
  • International terrorism
  • International trafficking
  • Weapons proliferation

Specialized Skills Officers – Specialized skills officers, who may become core collectors, conduct and/or support CIA operations using their military, technical, or medial experience in the areas of aviation, maritime, or psychological warfare.

Specialized skills officers, who may serve either abroad or at CIA headquarters in Washington D.C., are a diverse group of professionals that include:

  • Language officers
  • Paramilitary officers
  • Information resource officers
  • Targeting officers
  • Programs and plans officers


CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer and Specialized Skills Officer Jobs:
Minimum Requirements

Paramilitary Operations Officer – Candidates for paramilitary operations officer jobs must be United States citizens, and they must possess:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Experience in combat arms and/or military special operations
  • Experience in combat leadership

Although not required, previous foreign travel and foreign language proficiency are highly valued by the CIA for paramilitary operations officer jobs.

Specialized Skills Officer – Candidates for specialized skills officer jobs must also be United States citizens, and they must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

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Although not required, candidates with a background in maritime, aviation, information operations, military psychological warfare, communications, business, and/or counterintelligence are highly valued by the CIA for specialized skills officer jobs.

The Employment Process:

All candidates for paramilitary operations officer and specialized officer careers with the NCS must complete an online application and include their college transcripts and a one-page cover letter that describes why they are interested in an NCS career and what characteristics they possess that make them an ideal candidate.

Further, all candidates must be able to pass the Agency’s background investigation, psychological and medical examination, and a polygraph examination.

The Training Process:

New paramilitary operations officers and specialized skills officers are trained in the CIA’s Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) Program. The CST program is an 18-month program that trains individuals to handle tasks vital to foreign intelligence. Upon the successful completion of the CST program, individuals are placed on one of two career tracks:

  • Operations Officers (OOs)
  • Collection Management Officers (CMOs)

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