There are several career paths to consider when thinking about a career in the intelligence industry. The path you choose may require a combination of work experience such as internships, education, or special training beyond a degree. It’s important to keep in mind the following three key steps when preparing for and deciding on the direction for your career in intelligence.
Explore various career paths. To know the career path you want to pursue in the intelligence field, you need to know what your options are. Some job titles you could pursue include but are not limited to: access analyst, business and competitive intelligence analyst, political scientist, counterterrorism analyst, criminal investigator, cyber security intelligence analyst, insider threat detection analyst, immigration officer, translator, program analyst, security analyst, and special agent. Within each career path you’ll find specific education, skill, and training requirements. By researching these different jobs in the intelligence field, you can get focused on the area you want to target. Visit these government sponsored websites to get started: IntelligenceCareers.gov , ONET online and Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Learn more about security clearances and background checks. While not all positions require that you already have a security clearance, being “clearable” and able to obtain a clearance is key when considering a career in the intelligence industry. Remember that only federal agencies can grant a security clearance. You are not required or able to get one on your own. To get a better understanding of the security clearance process and background checks, visit gogovernment.org.
Expand your network. Do not overlook this important step. Joining professional associations and clubs, conducting informational interviews, and cultivating your network can provide current and reliable information about different career paths you’re interested in. Plus, once you’ve identified which path you’d like to pursue, having a network of intelligence industry professionals to tap into might just help you find your next job opportunity!
If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in the intelligence field, be sure to do your research, identify your interests and goals, and expand your professional network to help figure out the right path for you. As always, keep in mind that UMGC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist for additional support in your career journey.
Rhoda Smackum is a manager in Career Services at University of Maryland Global Campus. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.