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How To Become An Intelligence Analyst: Career & Salary Information

Intelligence analysts – while the name certainly does have a nice ring to it and is a title you'd want to drop at the dinner table as a reflection of your skills, intelligence analysts do hold a very important role in keeping many people safe and in stopping national security threats before they even happen.

To pursue a career in intelligence analysis, you first need to acquire a field-related degree or relevant qualification. You would then need to do an internship to gain related experience. Then you would need to pass background checks and clearances before applying for a role.

Read on to find out more about this extremely interesting career path.

What Is An Intelligence Analyst?

We have all heard of someone trying to gain "intel" on a certain topic. But when used correctly, gaining intel or intelligence means acquiring information or knowledge of specific military or political facets.

Therefore, working in a role that pertains to government intelligence means gaining information about the societal constructs of national security and international relations.

Heavily rooted in research, an intelligence analyst's role is to ensure that threats to a country's national safety are identified, mitigated, and neutralized before they come to fruition. Such threats can be both internal and external.

If you choose to become an intelligence analyst, you will most likely work in an intelligence agency like the FBI or CIA. Multiple countries across the globe have intelligence agencies designed to assess any risks that may present malicious intent toward the country's government and its people.

Intelligence analysts, therefore, play a vital role in maintaining a country's national security.

What Does An Intelligence Analyst Do?

When you hear of an intelligence analyst, you might imagine an automated digital screen popping up out of a wristwatch while they assess an impending threat. While it may not be what we see on television, intelligence analysts play a major role in monitoring a country's national security.

Intelligence analysts work either for a government agency, a contracting consultant, or law enforcement, and it is their job to conduct extensive research and extensively monitor any potential threats posed to the country.

However, over and above identifying any threats, intelligence analysts devise and work within teams and other divisions to stop these threats in their tracks.

While intelligence analysts that work for government and law enforcement are focused on the national safety of a country, an intelligence analyst for a large corporation would be brought in to assess market risks and competitors in the industry.

Some federal and state employees have jobs and job descriptions dedicated to gaining intelligence. But it is also part of other law enforcement personnel's duties and job descriptions to gain intelligence. They are required to collect and analyze data of cases and investigations that may have national or even state security implications.

In a very data-driven role, intelligence analysts spend much of their time at their desks collecting, assessing, and compiling data to present to involved stakeholders.

Steps To Become An Intelligence Analyst

Step One: Get A Qualification

The first step to becoming an intelligence analyst is to obtain a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. Owing to the nature of the role of an intelligence analyst, it may also be beneficial to pursue studies in international relations, with many choosing to pursue higher degrees, such as honors and master's degrees in international relations.

To gain skills and experiences that directly align with the targeted role, for many fields, it is recommended that candidates apply for an internship to acquire these skills. One such role is that of intelligence analysts.

Developing skills for research analysis is extremely important to success in this role, but knowing when to raise a red alert and distinguishing between perceived and real-life threats are extremely important.

Some of these skills are best acquired through on-the-job training and can't be acquired as easily through academic or in-class training alone.

Step Three: Apply And Get Checked

Applying for the role of an intelligence analyst is the easy part. Still, before you can even be considered for candidacy, rigorous background checks are conducted to ensure that you are suitable for the role.

There is a multitude of factors that may disqualify you from consideration for the role of an intelligent analyst. Background checks will delve deep into your associations and your connections. You will be checked for drug use, gambling, and many other factors.

If it is found that there are any red flags or concerns of note, you will be removed from consideration. This is due to an intelligence analyst's extremely sensitive nature. You would also need to prove that you can maintain confidentiality. This will be tested through a polygraph test and other personality assessments.

Step Four: Pursue Training And Career Advancement

In your role as an intelligence analyst, you can pursue greater career prospects within the field. This can be done by furthering your training and obtaining a higher degree.

What Degree Do You Need To Be An Intelligence Analyst?

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for a career as an intelligence analyst. The field of study can range from criminal justice and national studies to political studies and international relations.

The type of degree you choose to pursue would need to comprise coursework that will be beneficial to your career.

What Is The Average Salary For An Intelligence Analyst?

Various intelligence analyst roles exist, from protecting the nation from physical internal and external threats to even protecting computer networks and servers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts seeking out threats targeted at computer networks and services earn a median salary of $102,600 annually.

What Makes A Good Intelligence Analyst?

Many skills are needed to make a good intelligence analyst. Such skills include extreme attention to detail, ensuring that nothing gets past you, superior digital and computer competency and knowledge as much of your job will pertain to digital data and virtual research, and discretion as you will be working with a lot of sensitive and confidential information.

Another vital element of this role is ensuring that you have respect for authority. If you have a history showing you have pirated or hacked any digital interface, you will be deemed unsuitable for this role.


How Do I Start A Career In Intelligence Analysis?

Starting a career as an intelligence analyst starts with a decision to pursue this career, researching what this role entails, and deciding whether you are suited for the role. You will then need to obtain a bachelor's degree as the starting point of your career.

Do Intelligence Analysts Carry Guns?

Intelligence analysts don't often carry out fieldwork, they don't actively pursue criminals, and they don't often apprehend criminals. They do complete a lot of duties from behind a computer. They, therefore, do not carry weapons, but it is undoubtedly so that they play a monumental role in criminal justice.

How Much Does An FBI Intelligence Analyst Make?

According to the BLS, the median salary for an information security analyst is $102,600 per annum.

How Do You Become An FBI Intelligence Analyst?

Once you have become an intelligence analyst, you need to set your sights on roles within the Federal Bureau of Investigations. You can apply for roles, specifically in the FBI.


Being an intelligence analyst is no easy task. It requires you to use in-depth research and thought processes, and a lot depends on the success of their jobs. National security is of utmost importance, and the maintenance of this security lies greatly in the hands of intelligence analysts.

If you feel that you could handle the pressured work environment, and if you have never pirated your favorite movie as a teenager, this may just be your role.

find criminal justice degrees near you

find criminal justice degrees near you