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Careers in Military Intelligence

Jun 02, 2018

Intelligence is a critical component to all military operations. Personnel serving in an intelligence rating in the military use a variety of skills, techniques and equipment to gather information that directly informs and supports military strategy.

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Intelligence is an essential component to military operations. Careers in military intelligence require perceptive, capable personnel to bolster national defense through the collection and dissemination of information. Below are several roles service members perform within the intelligence field.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Intelligence Specialists $79,970 (Detectives & Criminal Investigators) 5% (Detectives & Criminal Investigators) Analysis, verbal & written communication, discretion & sound judgment
Cartographers & Photogrammetrists $63,990 19% Problem-solving, decision making, detail-oriented
Interpreters & Translators $47,190 18% Verbal & written communication, concentration, cultural sensitivity
Radar & Sonar Technicians $45,670 (Traffic Technicians) 9% (Traffic Technicians) Concentration, observation, problem-solving
Computer & Information Systems Specialists $139,220 (Computer & Information Systems Managers) 12% (Computer & Information Systems Managers) Analysis, decision-making, problem-solving

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Figures are for equivalent civilian careers; military salary is based on rank.)

Relevance to Military Background

Military intelligence is crucial to national defense and incorporates many different types of roles, skills and equipment. Placement in an intelligence rating is determined by a recruit's ASVAB score and the needs of the individual branch. Additional training for all of these roles is provided by the military.

All intelligence careers deal with classified information and may require recruits to be screened for security clearance.

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Career Description

Intelligence Specialists

Intelligence specialists are critical to military operations, since they collect, interpret and disseminate vital information. This information is used to determine targets, inform strategies, and provide situational awareness to officers and troops in the field.

Intelligence specialists may choose one of several sub-specializations, including human intelligence, counterintelligence, photo-imaging intelligence, and cryptology. This role is also performed at the officer level by intelligence officers.

Cartographers & Photogrammetrists

Military operations rely on accurate, up-to-date information on the geographic and compositional details of enemy forces in order to plan for national defense. Cartographers and photogrammetrists gather this information using geodetic surveys, aerial cameras, satellites and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology.

Cartographers specialize in creating visual representations from geographical data, including maps and charts. Photogrammetrists use more specialized technology to create models of the Earth's surface. This field is necessary for planning troop movements and disaster recovery efforts. As digital technology advances, cartographers and photogrammetrists work increasingly more on mobile, online and GIS maps.

Interpreters & Translators

National defense efforts require intelligence from all over the world, including information packages in foreign languages. Interpreters and translators convert these information packages from the originating language to English.

Interpreters specialize in converting spoken language and communicating back and forth between parties. Translators specialize in converting written materials from one language to another. Both roles require fluency in English and at least one other language, and often deal directly with confidential information necessary to military operations. The military provides special bonus pay to those who are fluent in a relevant foreign language.

Radar & Sonar Technicians

Specialized technicians use radar and sonar devices to locate objects based on their relation to radio and sound waves. This role is essential to military operations for tracking the position of ships, submarines, aircraft and missiles.

Radar and sonar technicians monitor tracking equipment, analyze and interpret the results. The data collected can be used to navigate ships and aircraft, direct artillery fire, detect and disarm mines and forecast weather. Technicians work in security-controlled areas on land or aboard aircraft, ships or submarines.

Computer Information Systems Specialists

Modern military intelligence efforts require reliable communication technology at all times. As a result, each branch of the military maintains high-tech computer systems that coordinate thousands of processes, with a crucial focus on security.

Military personnel specializing in computer information systems are responsible for creating, maintaining and monitoring the most complex communications networks in the world. This specialization incorporates a number of significant sub-specializations including communications relay, systems engineering and cyber warfare. This role is generally reserved for officers who have earned at least a bachelor's degree.

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