What Are the Qualifications for the CIA?

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  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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Job qualifications for the CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, include specific guidelines on the applicant's citizenship status, level of education, work experience, and personal characteristics. All candidates must be United States citizens. Typically, top applicants for this federal agency will have a record of academic excellence with a bachelor's degree or advanced study. Applicants are expected to have at least three years of professional experience in a field that is relevant to the CIA position for which they are applying. The minimum age for CIA applicants is 18.

Education is a key component of meeting qualifications for the CIA. Top applicants will have strong skills in research and analysis. Being fluent in a foreign language is seen as a plus. Those who are interested in a position with the Agency Technology Service, or ATS, are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science. Student work programs at the CIA are available, including competitive internships and graduate programs, but they require similar minimum qualifications as any permanent CIA position.


Essential job qualifications for the CIA also include a specified amount of work experience. Individuals with adequate experience in private investigations or law enforcement could be considered top candidates, depending on their other qualifications. Examiners will look for the ability to work in collaboration with others as well as independently, sensitivity to multicultural factors in the work environment, and indications of the individual's competence in highly stressful situations. Unlike some other federal institutions in the U.S., the CIA does not give preference to individuals who are veterans.

Personal qualities are a vital part of the qualifications for the CIA. A background check will be conducted, in addition to a polygraph test and a thorough psychological evaluation. The individual must have a clean drug record at least for the past 12 months and could be turned away based on any indications of prior drug abuse. Applicants must also pass a physical exam. This agency's discrimination policy states that it does not base hiring or security clearance decisions on an individual's religion, national origin, sexual orientation, race, or disability status.

Qualifications for the CIA create an applicant screening process that is intensive and can last for many months. The CIA is a federal agency that provides intelligence to policy makers in the U.S. government. Agents of this U.S. organization typically work in or near the District of Columbia, with the exception of clandestine positions, which are based in other countries.


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