The farmlands and rolling plains of South Dakota have produced some of the nation’s best and worst CIA affiliates. The Black Hills were also the site of secret CIA weapons testing that produced results that were useful in calculating the amount of biological and chemical weapons destroyed in the US-led bombing of Iraq in the first and second Gulf Wars.
The state has made important contributions to national security, and will continue to do so by fostering the CIA Agents of tomorrow. CIA careers in South Dakota are the domain of experienced academics, law enforcement officers and other professionals who want to make a contribution to their state and country.
Requirements for Joining the CIA’s National Clandestine Service in South Dakota
South Dakota residents seeking a career as a Core Collector with the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, there are two entry-level positions: the Professional Trainee Program (PT) and the Clandestine Service Program (CST). The primary differences between the two programs are work experience and age requirements.
PT Program – Candidates for this position must hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and be between the ages of 21-25. Most applicants for this position have no previous work experience.
CST Program – Candidates applying for this position are required to hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, have prior work or military experience and be in the age range of 26-35, with 35 being the maximum age for consideration.
Important requirements for both positions include:
- Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher at an accredited college or university
- Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
Degrees of preference include biological or chemical engineering, economics, finance, international business or relations, nuclear or physical science.
Occupational skills should include:
- Ability to work in both a team-based and independent environment
- Impeccable written and communication skills
- Interest in international affairs
- Quick in making rational decisions under sometimes less than ideal circumstances
Each applicant for the Core Collector position is required to be fluent in a second language, preferably one of the following: Dari, Indonesian, Urdu, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Turkish and Somali.
Candidates must also have lived abroad, had extensive foreign travel experience or knowledge of other countries and possess a comprehensive understanding of cross-cultural sensitivity and its importance.
To be considered for the PT or CST Core Collector positions with the CIA, each candidate go through two personal interviews, consent to a medical and psychological exam, agree to a polygraph interview and undergo a background check.
Preparing for a CIA Special Agent Investigator Career in South Dakota
Education and Experience – To ensure it has the nation’s best and brightest, CIA requirements for employment place a premium on education. Having a bachelor’s degree in any subject area is mandatory.
Future agents will find the following majors transfer over easily to CIA jobs in South Dakota or anywhere else in the world:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Criminal Justice
- Computer Science
- Law Enforcement
- Political Science
The agency also places a strong emphasis on well-reviewed work experience. Becoming a CIA agent requires three years of work experience in the field of criminal investigations.
Finally, CIA careers are only open to US citizens who do not have a history of criminal activity.
Application Process – As could be expected, an application with the CIA is unlike most other applications a candidate will be familiar with. It begins by creating an online profile with the agency. An application for Special Agent/Investigator can be submitted after the profile has been completed. Applicants should be aware their profile and online account will become disabled as a security precaution after three days, at which time they will be permanently inaccessible.
The application process will include an in-depth background investigation and psychological assessment. Candidates will need to provide information about the following, which will be confirmed with a polygraph test:
- Past criminal behavior
- Employment and military experience, if applicable
- Talents, strengths, and areas of expertise
- Education areas of specialization
- Previous security clearances and polygraph examinations
Training – CIA training takes place at a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s Criminal Investigator Training Program. This is an extensive course which spans 56 training days covering the CIA basics such as:
- Case development
- Firearms training
- Interviewing/interrogation techniques
- Vehicle pursuit driving
- Legal procedures such as:
- Filing indictments or criminal complaints
- Obtaining search and arrest warrants
- Presenting evidence
- Courtroom testimony
South Dakota’s Double Agents and Top Officers
South Dakota is home to Cuban Agent 123, known to those in Aberdeen as Gwen Myers. Mrs. Myers was married to Kendall Myers who at times throughout his three-decade career as a secret agent for the Cuban government also served as a CIA instructor with a Top Secret security clearance. The Myers would eventually move to Washington DC where they would work with the State Department and other US agencies, all the while providing ideologically-motivated information to Cuba. Finally the pair was arrested in 2009.
Jack O’Connell, another South Dakotan native was, in contrast to Gwen Myers, one of the CIA’s most important officers in the Middle East. Close with the US ally King Hussein of Jordan, O’Connell prevented several assassination attempts against the monarch and tried to convince him to stay out of a costly war with Israel in 1967. He went from a small South Dakota town to being a lawyer fluent in Arabic, stationed as a CIA Agent in Amman.