The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prevents threats to national security by collecting and analyzing intelligence data that is used in coordinating covert operations overseas. The CIA consists of five offices:
- Directorate of Intelligence – provides national security information and analyses to the U.S. president and top-level government policymakers.
- National Clandestine Service – Coordinates and evaluates clandestine operations across the intelligence community
- Directorate of Science and Technology – uses scientific and technological expertise to solve intelligence problems.
- Directorate of Support – Provides everything needed to carry out the mission.
- Offices of the Director – includes several staffs that handle matters like human resources, public relations and legal/congressional issues.
The CIA is headquartered in Langley, VA and is present in most states, including Utah. However, secrecy is critical in intelligence work and locations are not publicized.
Since 9/11 there has been an effort to improve cooperation between the CIA and FBI. CIA staff is often present in FBI field offices, including the one in Salt Lake City. Since the CIA is prohibited from gathering intelligence on US citizens, CIA operatives provide the FBI with international databases to determine whether US suspects have ties with foreign terrorist groups and to help law enforcement to identify terrorist suspects.
Steps to a CIA Career in Clandestine Service
Although the focus of this article is on special agent jobs, there are many other career opportunities with the CIA. Other areas for employment include:
- Counterterrorism, political and military analysis
- Cyber Security
- Human Resources
- Legal Services
- Public Affairs
- Foreign Language Translation
- Sign Language Interpretation
Educational Requirements – A bachelor’s degree or better, from an accredited four-year college/university, is required for the job of special agent as well as other professional positions. Graduate degrees or studies beyond the bachelor level are a definite advantage. Utah has very ample educational opportunities, including seven public universities, 11 private colleges/universities and eight technical colleges. The state university system has campuses in half a dozen different cities, making it a very convenient place to earn a degree. Utah residents can also take advantage of several accredited online schools.
It is preferable to major in a relevant field, including:
- Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Police Science
- Forensic Investigation
- Technology and Weapons
- Computer Technology
Other Requirements – In addition to a college degree, CIA agents must meet the following requirements:
- U.S. citizen
- Between 21 and 35 years of age
- College grade point average of at least 3.0
- No illegal drug use in the past 12 months
- Interest in foreign affairs
The following qualifications are a definite plus but not strictly required:
- Foreign language proficiency (especially Arabic or a related language)
- Having lived in a foreign country
- Completion of the Criminal Investigation Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA
Individuals whose applications are accepted must successfully complete the following:
- Medical examination
- Psychological evaluation
- Extensive background investigation
- Polygraph exam
- Two interviews
Training Requirements – CIA special agent recruits must complete a two-part training program in Virginia:
- Headquarters-based training program – 18 weeks
- Clandestine service training program – 18 weeks
The CIA University offers between 200 and 300 continuing education courses.
The Utah Data Center
The highly classified Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-Security Initiative Data Center, known as the Utah Data Center, is a 240-acre site at Camp Williams, near Bluffdale, Utah. The $1.5 billion project completed in late 2013 provides the National Security Agency (NSA) with 100,000 square feet of computer space plus 900,000 square feet for technical support and administration. The focus of the immense data storage facility is to retrieve, monitor, de-code, analyze and store intelligence data related to security interests from both domestic and international networks. It is a vital asset to Homeland Security and locates valuable overseas targets for the CIA.