Learning How to Join the CIA
If you’re interested in keeping America safe you should consider a career with the CIA. The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian (non-military) organization that is responsible for providing the United States government with data on foreign threats. When the President of the United States wants action to be taken against a threatening foreign entity, the CIA is at his beck and call. Though the US military is responsible for a good portion of peace-keeping work, the CIA is the the organization our country calls on when it wants covert action taken quickly, and with fewer protocols than military action.
Want to know how to join the CIA? Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you . . .
The History of the CIA
Because of movies and television, most people think of the CIA as a group of mysterious spies, slipping out of their wetsuits into perfectly tailored tuxedos and shooting poison darts into the necks of terrorists. The truth is that most CIA agents are not “spies” in the traditional sense — only a very small portion of CIA agents work covertly in the field. In fact, only one division of the CIA employs such “spies” — the National Clandestine Service — while the majority of CIA agents are more like police officers sitting at desks and communicating with the government.
If you want to know how to join the CIA because you enjoy your martinis shaken and not stirred you may be barking up the wrong tree. Besides — James Bond is British and works for the British MI6.
The first American organization to supply the kind of intelligence that today’s CIA works with was the Office of Strategic Services, considered the grandfather of the Central Intelligence Agency. This group was created during World War II to provide various spy services behind enemy lines.
When Harry Truman disbanded the OSS in October of 1945, these duties were split between various government organizations. Truman then went on to form the Central Intelligence Group in early 1946 (despite loud protest from both the FBI and the US military) in order to consolidate espionage and intelligence efforts. Since 1947, the organization has been known as the CIA.
How to Join the CIA
1. To be a CIA agent you must be a United States citizen. Born outside of the country? No problem — as long as you attain your citizenship, you can go through the process of becoming a CIA agent.
2. Keep your nose clean. To join the CIA you must go through the most rigorous security clearance procedures in the world. Think you background check for your job pumping gas was tough? Though it is impossible to say what exact procedures the CIA uses to separate the wheat from the chaff, you pretty much need to be a perfect citizen from birth. That means having a good credit score, no criminal record, making excellent grades, maintaining a good reputation, even staying faithful to your spouse. Though no one is “perfect”, the CIA is highly selective — even the activities of your friends and family could keep you out of the Central Intelligence Agency.
3. Just say “no”. According to the CIA’s website, any drug use within a year of your application or background check will automatically disqualify you, and it is possible that drug use at any point in your life could keep you out of service as a CIA agent.
4. Get an education. All jobs with the CIA require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, though any advanced degree will up your chances of being accepted. According to previous applicants, a 3.0 GPA is the bare minimum for CIA applicants. A bit of good news for people wondering how to join the CIA — what kind of degree you have doesn’t really matter, though people with degrees in economics, math, science, and foreign languages are generally given preference.
5. Speaking of foreign languages — learn a few of them. You will probably not be accepted for a job with the CIA without fluency in at least two languages — English and the language of your choice. The most popular languages for CIA agents are Mandarin, Farsi, and Arabic — they are some of the world’s most popular languages and are the ones spoken in the CIA’s “hot spots”.
6. Apply for a job with the CIA online. Browse their website, pick a specific position you want, and submit your resume and other application information. You can do it all online, so the physical application is a cinch.
7. Be patient. In general, the CIA will contact you within two months if they are interested in you. Your initial job offer from the CIA will be what is called a “conditional” offer — this means you don’t quite have the job yet but are on your way.
8. Take the necessary medical and psychological exams. You need to be in good physical and mental condition and pass a drug test. The CIA will test your intelligence, personal judgment, and general mental stability.
9. Take a polygraph test. As a condition of employment you’ll be given a “lie detector test”. They’ll ask you general questions about your past, your plans for your career with the CIA, and especially about drug use and patriotism. By the way, you’ll be given periodic polygraphs if you’re lucky enough to be hired by the CIA.
10. Wait for a job offer. Understand that out of all people given a “conditional job offer”, less than 1 in 5 will be given a final offer. If you think you’re ready for a career with the CIA, accept the job and prepare for training.
Though the above ten steps are by no means definitive, they do give a good outline of how to join the CIA. If you’re under the age of 35, have a clean criminal and personal record, and want to serve your country as a civilian in the field of national security, a job with the Central Intelligence Agency is the highest achievement possible.
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See also: How to Become a Spy