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How to Become a CIA Agent

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Working for the CIA gives you numerous opportunities to serve the country through different roles to secure and protect citizens. CIA agents collect and assess intelligence information concerning national security. If you want to learn how to become a CIA agent, read on.

What does a CIA agent do?

The specific duties for CIA agents can vary depending on their particular roles. However, you can expect to perform the following tasks as a CIA agent:

  • Gather and evaluate information that may potentially concern national security.
  • Gather intelligence from overseas by reviewing international news, media, magazines, and other sources.
  • Creating reports based on data gathered and analyzed for use by the government.
  • Collaborating with other agencies with international crime and terrorism investigations.
  • Research and development of information-gathering technologies.
  • Assessing whether information sources are credible
  • Scanning for sensitive information from coded messages coming from abroad
  • Using satellite imagery for investigations

What are the requirements to become a CIA agent?

There are specific qualifications you have to possess before you can apply with the CIA.

  • You must be physically within the US during the application process. You cannot contact the agency by phone, email, or letter while outside of the country.
  • At least 18 years of age
  • A US citizen
  • Willing to move to Washington CD
  • Pass medical and security tests
  • Not have any record of disqualifying factors.

Factors that can disqualify you from becoming a CIA agent

Several things could disqualify you from obtaining a job with the CIA. According to their website, here are the things that you should be wary of when applying:

Lack of candor

The primary reason why applicants get disqualified during the application process is dishonesty. Honesty is a primary trait that you need to have when you work for the CIA. It promotes trust and therefore helps the application move along a lot faster.

Illegal drug use or misuse of prescription drugs

This is not a simple one-time drug test that you take upon submitting your application. You need to have at least 12 months of not using illegal drugs and nor misusing prescription drugs to qualify for clearance. This also includes controlled substances like marijuana since federal statutes do not allow federal agencies to grant clearances to marijuana users.

Criminal or unethical behavior

CIA employees need to have high standards when it comes to ethics. You need to be clear of recent involvement with criminal and unethical charges. That means that you should not have any pending criminal charges, felony convictions, or a dishonorable discharge. It can even be as specific as the illegal downloading of copyrighted material.

Lack of responsiveness

The CIA expects quick responses whenever they reach out to their applicants. You have to be ready and available anytime they might need to speak or meet with you. In fact, they advise that if you are undergoing any major life event that may keep you busy, you should defer your application until you are much more stable.

Association with the CIA social media

They discourage applicants from following the CIA social media for their own safety and security. This not only includes following their accounts but also liking, commenting, or sharing any of their content.

How to become a CIA agent

If you think you have what it takes and want to learn how to become a CIA agent, here are the steps you need to follow.

Obtain a bachelor’s degree

While the CIA allows applicants as young as 18 years old, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree if you want to apply as an agent. If you have a degree in criminology, law enforcement, or criminal justice, it will give you enough preparation in terms of needed knowledge to adequately perform the job.

Aim for higher education

You don’t need a master’s or doctorate to become a CIA agent. However, it does improve your chances of bagging the job and increases your prospects of getting promoted in the long term. Moreover, you can further refine your skills if you have advanced education on foreign affairs, technology, and security.



Learn a new language

As a CIA agent, you may be assigned to a foreign country. You may also be dealing with matters concerning foreign affairs, studying media, messages, and other materials in a foreign tongue. That is why it can be helpful to learn how to speak foreign languages. Some foreign languages you can learn are Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian, Mandarin, Italian, French, and Korean.

Gain relevant experience

Just like a higher educational degree, relevant experience is not a necessity in becoming a CIA agent. However, it can help out a lot if you have some experience in law enforcement or have been part of the military for a time. You will also be looked upon favorably if you have a background in national services or security.

If you are still in school or are planning to return to get a college degree, you can already start by availing undergraduate programs and internships offered by the CIA. The good thing about these programs is that they are paid internships that give you the proper exposure to the work while allowing you to earn.

Complete the required examinations

A series of background checks and a drug exam that an aspiring CIA agent has to go through. These usually include a background investigation, a polygraph interview, and a physical and psychological examination.

Complete a training program

Once you’ve been accepted, you will need to undergo internal training conducted by the CIA. in this internal training, you will learn all about internal policies, procedures, and specialized training according to the type of service you are entering. It can either be a Clandestine Service Trainee Program for clandestine services or a Criminal Investigator Training Program for aspiring investigators. 

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