How to Become an <br>Intelligence Analyst

How to Become an
Intelligence Analyst

Dasha Castillo
By Dasha Castillo - Content Writer
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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Becoming an intelligence analyst may be your next career move if you have a passion for crime prevention, problem-solving and technological innovation. This article will teach you everything you need to know about becoming an intelligence analyst. We compiled a list of requirements for entering the profession, salary and job growth statistics for this career. In this guide, you will also find how to optimize your resume to attract more recruiters with our professional Resume Builder, libraries of templates and intelligence analyst resume samples.

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What Does an Intelligence Analyst Do?

An intelligence analyst works closely with special agents to identify and analyze potential threats, counterterrorism and organized crime. Their work is crucial to mitigate national and international risks proactively.

An intelligence analyst aims to report helpful information to prevent attacks on data or citizens from those participating in organized criminal activities. Some typical intelligence analyst duties and responsibilities include:

  • Prepare comprehensive reports based on information gathered during research.

  • Validate information with other intelligence sources.

  • Study the assets of criminal suspects to determine the cash flow to or from targeted groups.

  • Study foreign languages or communication codes to translate possible intelligence.

  • Identify threats and provide a strategy based on a region's culture, history and language.

  • Networking with international, national, state and local officials and intelligence and law enforcement contacts.

How to Become an Intelligence Analyst

If you are considering becoming an intelligence analyst, this promising career is in constant demand, with a projected growth of 35% through 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. Based on the government salary scale, this high-paying occupation offers a yearly income of up to $134,776.00, as reported by the FBI. Let’s break down the steps of how to become an intelligence analyst.


Education requirements:

Employers seek intelligence analyst candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree. Students pursuing a career in intelligence analysis can choose from the most common degrees in international relations, criminal justice and social science. Previous experience in law enforcement, the military, computer science or accounting is often helpful. Government agencies that employ intelligence analysts may require candidates to participate in additional, specialized training.


Experience opportunities:

  • Sign up for an internship. Prospective intelligence analysts must have relevant work experience in government agencies or information technology companies. Although internships are not required, they are among the best opportunities to gain experience. The Department of Homeland Security offers the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) Internship Program to provide degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students with experience. This internship gives you hands-on experience in the functional areas of Intelligence Analysis, Intelligence Operations, Mission Readiness, Information Technology and Data Science.
  • Get an apprenticeship in intelligence analysis. You can sign up according to the type of organization you are interested in, such as military, law enforcement, security, finance and commerce. Applications may be sent online to the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Apprenticeship Program.

Go for a specialized certification:

Although no specific certifications are required to become an intelligence analyst, it does make one more attractive in today’s job market. Here are a few examples of certifications for an intelligence analyst:


Create a job-winning resume:

Every well-planned intelligence analyst’s job search starts with crafting a high-quality resume highlighting your skills and experience. Even without experience, you can make your resume stand out. Try our resume templates for preloaded styles and customizable options to create a resume in just minutes.

Additionally, a cover letter may influence whether you get hired or not. When applying for intelligence analyst positions, create a cover letter that expresses your interest in the position and highlights your qualifications and what you can bring to the role. Need some inspiration for your cover letter? Check out our collection of cover letter samples.

Intelligence Analyst Skills

The ability to obtain, process and provide information are three of the most important skills an intelligence analyst will be expected to do. Being an intelligence analyst involves observing and receiving data from relevant sources, working with the data to break it down into separate parts and compiling reports that allow an understanding of the risks associated with various groups and individuals.

They should be able to desegregate significant data from large bodies of data they obtain and create and maintain a systematic recording and filing system that allows for cross-referencing of intelligence data obtained.

Intelligence analysts should be able to speak and write clearly and succinctly. Consider becoming multilingual to work in foreign affairs.

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) features the School of Language Studies (SLS), which provides classes in over 70 languages to prepare government workers for global careers. The most in-demand languages to study for government jobs are:

  • Arabic

  • Pashto

  • Somali

  • Farsi

  • Korean

  • Mandarin

  • Russian

  • Spanish

  • Turkish


Aside from language skills, intelligence analysts need a mix of hard and soft essential skills to succeed.

Hard skills:

2Criminological theory
3Interrogation techniques
5Technical data
7Vulnerability assessment
8Multicultural policing
9Correctional practices
10Data visualization software
11Firearms proficiency

Intelligence analyst soft skills:

1Critical thinking is fundamental for intelligence analyst professionals.
4Research plays a vital role in accessing crime data and assessing models.
5Problem-solving is critical to identify complex issues and create solutions.
6Leadership ensures everyone works toward the same goal.

Insights About Intelligence Analyst

In order to get an inside look at how to become an Intelligence Analyst, we talked to Dmitri Oster, who has an extensive background in international affairs and associated disciplines. Here’s what he had to tell us.

What Is the Common Career Path for Intelligence Analysts?

There are many paths available for a person to qualify as an intelligence analyst. Any given applicant must be very well-read, intelligent and with a deep knowledge base for all types of civil and worldly affairs. Any such applicant should also not have anything resembling a criminal record as background is thoroughly examined and judged according to various national security guidelines. Some people in this industry would say that a typical intelligence analyst would come from an academic background in political science or international affairs or something associated with such fields of study. And, many who enter this field do come from such an academic background. However, it is important to know that other backgrounds are considered when one is attempting to enter this professional domain.

What Career Advancement Opportunities Are Available to Intelligence Analysts?

There are options available to ascend to higher levels of managerial oversight or supervisory status within both the governmental and even private sectors of industry. The abilities required to collect, analyze, and think through complex sets of data while rendering an intelligible product in a timely and efficient manner to consumers is a skill-set that is highly regarded in upper levels of practice in both the intelligence and private sector domains. There are some intelligence analysts that even choose to enter the political domain with their gained understanding of the intricacies embedded in political phenomena. Although, that is always only a personal career choice with a very different set of priorities and orientation. It is fair to say that an intelligence analyst would most likely have a different set of eyes to be able to interpret and help inform their viewpoints on political and even business matters, should the need arise.  I refer to this simply as the creative impulse, and harnessed in a productive manner it can lead to success in various fields of operations.  Good intelligence analysts often emerge from this backdrop of functioning.

Who Makes a Good Intelligence Analyst?

People who excel in this type of job are those that have a penchant for detail and can follow various protocols, but also have a developed sense of critical inquiry. Any type of intelligence analyst without a critical consciousness is simply following regulations. The best analysts are those that can work within complex guidelines but also are not afraid to think and question beyond the standard parameters of inquiry. 

What Should Someone Consider Before Becoming an Intelligence Analyst?

First and foremost is the question of emotional and behavioral stability. It is important to consider this domain and dynamic of human functioning because most intelligence analysts must have the refined abilities to multi-task with a keen sense of focused attention and detail-orientation while at the same time having the capacity to see the bigger picture of any particular project.  This is the ability to see and perceive on different levels at the same time, while not being burdened by distraction and other forms of stimuli that are always present. I firmly believe that only those analysts and other operators that have spent a good amount of time on their emotional development have the capacity to carry out these functions in the most efficient and mature manner.

How Much Do Intelligence Analysts Get Paid?

Intelligence Analysts earn a median hourly wage in the United States of over $37.00. The lowest-paid Intelligence Analysts make around $20 hourly, while the highest-paid can earn more than $60 per hour.

Top 10 States for Intelligence Analyst’s Salary

Intelligence Analysts in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.:

    District Of Columbia




    New Jersey






    New York




    New Mexico






    Intelligence Analyst Resources

    Need more information? We put together this list of extra resources to assist you as you continue exploring a career as an Intelligence Analyst.

    On the Web

    Office of Intelligence and Analysis

    FBI Careers
    Official site for FBI careers

    On LinkedIn

    Kenneth Costine
    Intelligence Analyst at Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    Martin Petersen
    Former career intelligence officer for the CIA

    Industry Groups

    International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts

    The International Association of Crime Analysts