Job Description of a Counterintelligence Agent

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a counterintelligence agent. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties, and employment information to find out if this is the career for you.

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Counterintelligence agents are employed by federal agencies and assess international threats. They are required to have a bachelor's degree before going through the application process; however, a master's degree may open more job prospects for those who plan to enter this field. Some preferred areas of study include journalism, history, international relations, and political science.

Essential Information

Aspiring counterintelligence agents must undergo a rigorous application and screening process, and they must meet specific and demanding educational and experience requirements. Employment requires at least a bachelor's degree, although a graduate degree may be preferred, and a thorough understanding of current events and international relations.

Required Education Bachelor's degree; graduate degree can improve job prospects
Other Considerations Foreign language fluency; pass background check, polygraph test, and physical exam
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* Roughly unchanged for all military careers
Median Annual Salary (2016) $86,426 for intelligence officers**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Counterintelligence Agent Job Description

Counterintelligence agents work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Defense, all branches of the U.S. military, and other related government departments. Agents at all of these locations work to protect American interests from terrorists, spies, and other potential threats. Some of the tasks of a counterintelligence agent include encoding or decoding secret information, conducting investigations into crimes against national security, and sharing pertinent information with friendly foreign governments. Agents are able to gather information from satellite surveillance, foreign and domestic contacts, and foreign media.

Counterintelligence Agent Job Requirements

Potential agents should have at least a bachelor's degree, although an advanced degree can make an applicant more competitive. Counterintelligence agents are expected to have graduated with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Preferred majors include history, journalism, regional studies, political science, public administration, and international relations. Many agents speak more than one language and are familiar with another culture. Counterintelligence agents must also pass extensive medical exams, background checks, and polygraph tests.

Military Counterintelligence Agents

Becoming a counterintelligence agent in the military is only an option for those who are already enlisted. Because of the rank and responsibility of this position, entry-level soldiers are not eligible for this job assignment. Those who are accepted into a counterintelligence job must complete extra training. In the U.S. Army, for example, soldiers attend the Counterintelligence Special Agent Course for 19 weeks. The Air Force has its own 12-week training program. Enlisted counterintelligence agents work with other government agencies to collect intelligence from international threats and then analyze and assess it. They also devise appropriate responses and retaliations.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to figures reported by PayScale.com in January 2016, the median annual salary earned by intelligence officers was $86,426. Intelligence officers who earned salaries in the 10th-90th percentile range earned $50,511-$123,809 annually. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report specific statistics for counterintelligence agents, it did project that the number of folks employed in military careers would remain roughly constant from 2014-2024.

Counterintelligence agents may work for the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense, the military, or other government departments. They gather, interpret, and share intelligence about threats to national security or the security of friendly foreign governments. A bachelor's degree and knowledge of current events and international relations is required, but a master's degree can make a person more competitive for this position.

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