Flashy cars, beautiful women and high-tech gadgets have helped create the ultimate movie persona: an international spy who always gets his guy and the girl. When the stakes are high and the odds are stacked against his favor, Agent 007 has come to be known as the man you want for the job, coming in at the clutch to solve the mystery and save the world.
He is a classic literary and film character, featured in countless novels and 23 movies. He has been portrayed by six different actors in the past 50 years since author Ian Fleming first penned the name, James Bond. Through the magic of Hollywood, James Bond has glamorized the world of espionage; however, there is no green screen when it comes to the real life of CIA agents and operatives and the international missions that put their lives at risk. The life of a CIA agent takes brains, brawns and guts and is a life better served shaken – not stirred.
Service to Your Country in the CIA
Entry into the CIA is particularly competitive and requires a strong understanding of the agency well beyond what you might have gleaned from James Bond. Most CIA jobs are not clandestine, but are rather in other operational fields, including analytics, language, science, technology and engineering. If you want to serve your country at this high level, consider the following before you apply.
Check your history: The CIA completes an exhaustive background check on all potential candidates to ensure that personnel meet the prominent standards associated with this agency. The application process can be extensive. As a result, consider running a background check on yourself to see if it is even worth your time to pursue a position in the CIA before you apply. When running a background check, it is advised to use a service with access to the CIS database, which is the same database the CIA uses. Key background information includes:
- No criminal record
- No illegal drug use and limited use of alcohol and prescription drugs
- Good credit score
- Good work ethic and employment track record
- Good social circles, including family and friends
Prove your value through higher education: The CIA is searching for superior candidates to fill positions in a variety of fields. All candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree; advanced degrees, including a master’s degree are preferred. Candidates with exemplary academic records are most sought after. For top consideration, candidates should also consider earning a degree in one of the following area of studies:
- Security policy studies
- Political science
- International relations
Take the time to become a world citizen: CIA agents can work in countries around the world and must be able to blend in with the natives. Having a strong understanding of different cultures, traditions and languages can help you gain an edge in the candidate pool, especially if you have a particular interest in the clandestine services. While fluency in other languages isn’t required, it is highly regarded and can help you stand out. Languages in demand include:
- Farsi (Persian)
Get in shape: The CIA is demanding on a mental, emotional and physical level. You will be tested during the screening process in a variety of capacities to measure how well you can handle pressure on all levels. Conditioning yourself through a strict training regimen can help build physical stamina, mental alertness and emotional strength that will serve you well in your new career role.
Get ready to become a world traveler: Whether you are hired into the clandestine services or get an office job in a related field, you should be willing to relocate and travel. CIA operatives will often travel the world on covert missions and must maintain a flexible schedule to go somewhere at a moment’s notice. If you are looking for a more stable career, consider a non-clandestine services position within the CIA. However, if you are ready for a global tour, keep your eye’s set on a career clandestine component of the CIA.
The application process can be tedious and slow moving. It is also very competitive, as only 17 percent of applicants pass the background check and subsequent exams. Staying focused, patient and determined can help you throughout the process.
CIA agents serve as the first line of defense in protecting our nation’s citizens as well as a broader international community against terrorism and foreign and internal attacks. Your fellow CIA agents – no matter the capacity in which they serve – will be highly educated and possess immeasurable integrity along with insatiable intellectual curiosity. As a CIA agent, you are part of a community unified in a common purpose of serving and protecting the citizens of the world.
Notre Dame College (NDC) provides an accessible and affordable college degree. NDC offers a broad range of career-focused, accredited degree options, like the Masters in Security Studies, to help you achieve your goals through education. Adult students benefit from our online degrees, which merge convenience and flexibility with NDC’s academic tradition of excellence. Make an investment in your future with a degree from NDC.