Being smart about intelligence careers

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many people became interested in national security careers, especially intelligence. Now, with the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden, many people are again considering intelligence.

And civilian intelligence agencies are looking to hire counterterrorism workers. But there are many other threats that also require intelligence analysts. Although many people automatically think about the Central Intelligence Agency, the world of intelligence is much bigger.

Intelligence.gov lists 17 Intelligence Community member agencies. Among them: Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, CIA, Coast Guard Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Marine Corps Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, Navy Intelligence, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Go deeper into each agency and you will find numerous sub-agencies that do intelligence work. For example, Air Force Intelligence has the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency and the Office of Special Investigations. The Navy has the Office of Naval Intelligence as well as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the basis for a popular CBS show.

The Army has the Army Intelligence and Security Command and civilian intelligence specialists working in various Army components, such as the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. The Department of State has the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Diplomatic Security Service. Both have robust intelligence operations.

Within the Department of Homeland Security, many intelligence operations are conducted through its Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

And government intelligence opportunities stretch even beyond the 17 agencies and their subcomponents. I could go on and on, but I hope you get my point.

Each of these agencies, departments, offices, and units have the mission to make sure they determine what the threats are and put measures in place to prevent, counter and defeat them.

Start looking for those opportunities by going on sites such as USAJOBS, Avuecentral and Indeed. Use keyword searches such as “intelligence, terrorism, threat, national security,” etc. And remember that government titles can be deceptive, so make sure you read a job description.

Then begin thinking about where you want to work, and make a list

Keep in mind that many intelligence agencies and offices fall under “excepted service,” which means they are excluded from competitive civil service procedures and can have their own hiring systems. This means they do not have to post jobs on USAJOBS. These agencies may post jobs on their Web sites or with specialized associations, and sometimes you can find out about positions by calling them directly.

Bottom line: The world of intelligence is much bigger that you realize, so dig deep. The information you collect might lead you to a place you never expected.

Derrick T. Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, is a career counselor who specializes in government job searches and military transition. Send your comments and questions to fedworker@washpost.com.

 
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