Solving the Mysteries of CIA Agent Careers
Film, books and television have played significant roles in creating the myths and mysteries surrounding careers in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). From James Bond (even though he works for the MI6) to Jason Bourne, the life of CIA agents, spies, government assassins, and undercover operatives fascinates a large portion of the population.
From fictional stories of intrigue to widely known conspiracy theories, there are many opinions and a widespread sense of wonder about what the real role of a CIA agent is like.
You may have questions, such as: What does a CIA agent really do? Are CIA agents really spies? You may even be wondering how to work for the CIA or become a spy? And you certainly aren’t alone. While this agency is in many ways shrouded in mystery for national security purposes, we do know a great deal about the CIA, and some of the answers to these questions.
First, let’s answer the question: What does the CIA do? According to their website: “The CIA’s primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security.”
When you take into account the number of foreign governments with whom we have friendly and hostile relations, you can imagine the sprawling reach and complex web this agency weaves to conduct its daily business. Not only that, but with the threat of terrorism on the forefront of today’s national security issues, they have to prepare for the dangers of non-governmental organizations as well. These NGOs can pose greater threats and don’t recognize diplomatic measures or rules for engagement as an approach to problem-solving.
So what does a CIA special agent actually do within this organization? An agent can play a variety of roles in this organization, and there are agents that work in every aspect of their mission. Some agents spend their time analyzing data and passing on information to relevant circles within the agency so appropriate action can be determined. Many of these roles are not glamorous, require sitting at a desk and doing paperwork, and other activities that you see at corporations and business not involved in dangerous affairs.
Of course, the CIA requires the work of spies to conduct some of its business. This fact is widely known, and not denied at the agency. In fact, there is even a Spy Museum in Washington D.C. that includes a former Covert Operations Officer as part of its advisory council. The work of spies is highly secretive, and doesn’t always involve cloak and dagger type operations. Sometimes these roles can seem relatively harmless and involve setting up businesses in foreign countries that conceal their true intent.
However, if these seemingly innocent roles become known, there can be true dangers for the agent, especially in hostile foreign environments. Sometimes spies even vanish. This was the case during the Cold War with a valuable spy placed in the Soviet Union- a particularly dangerous place for CIA agents in the early 1980’s. In 1982, the most valuable CIA spy went missing. He was responsible for helping the United States uncover Soviet radar and weapons research. After he missed five meetings with US contacts, he was declared missing.
If you want to know how to become a CIA agent, the process is complicated.
You might also consider what it takes to become a Secret Service Agent or look into branches of the military that require the skills that you want to use in your CIA role. To be trusted with this kind of work, you will have to be a US citizen, and go through several interviews, background checks, and other processes to be sure you are the right person for the role.
They also want the best and brightest, and recruit members as early as high school to groom them for the right operative roles. To learn more about the career opportunities available at the CIA, you can visit their website here to view current jobs they have available.
While they don’t have ‘agent’ specifically listed, you can see they have a wide variety of jobs that help cover all the bases listed that help protect our national security.
Getting started in a relevant degree field is a great first step toward becoming a CIA agent. Take a look at the programs below and request information from the schools that interest you.