The Path to CIA Agent Careers
They look glamorous in the movies, but CIA agents are dedicated professionals who often put themselves in harm's way.
The job of a CIA agent is often glamorized on TV and in the movies. While it can have its cushy parts, the career can also be challenging and potentially dangerous.
If you're a bright, energetic and dedicated person, you may be a good fit for the CIA.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Career Fields
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recommends that you start by researching one of their many career paths:
- Technical and engineering
- Clandestine services
- Language opportunities
- Analytical opportunities
- Support services
Determining what interests you most will help guide you toward the appropriate college degree program.
CIA Agent Degree
The CIA requires a bachelor's degree for most entry-level positions and an advanced degree for non-clerical careers such as overseas officer or intelligence analyst.
- Criminal justice
- Homeland security
About the Career
The hiring and screening process for CIA agents is very competitive, lengthy and thorough. You'll also be required to take a polygraph test to become a CIA agent. If you're fluent in a foreign language, particularly Arabic, Farsi or Urdu, this could help you get hired more quickly. It can also put more money in your pocket.
The CIA pays out a one-time lump sum bonus—the maximum amount is $35,000—to individuals fluent in another language.
You must be a U.S. Citizen and be no older than 35 years of age (the age limit may be waived in certain cases). If you are married, your spouse must also be a U.S. Citizen.
CIA Salary and Job Growth
CIA agent salaries vary, but you can anticipate making between $50,000 and $95,000 a year, depending on the specific job, your work experience and level of education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook classifies federal and special agents under police and detectives, and reports the median annual wage for protective services officers as $56,980.
Employment for protective services officers is expected to grow 8 percent through 2022, which is slower than average.
As you work toward a career in the CIA, remember that earning a degree can help improve your salary range and create more opportunities for advancement.
Federal and State Criminal Justice Career Guide
Federal and State Careers
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) Agent
- CIA Agent
- FBI Agent
- Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Agent
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Special Agent
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Treasury Enforcement Agent
- IRS Special Agent
- U.S. Postal Inspector
- Fish and Game Warden
- U.S. Park Ranger
- Federal Protective Service Police Officer