Intelligence Careers for People Without a Degree

Oct 14, 2019

Intelligence careers are available to those with or without a college degree in both civilian and military roles. Individuals who don't have a degree but are interested in working in intelligence may enjoy roles such as detective or intelligence specialist. Read more below.

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Career Options in Intelligence: No Degree Required

Although a large number of careers in intelligence may require applicants to have college degrees, there are several positions available to those who have not earned any degree beyond a high school diploma. Working in intelligence may consist of gathering and interpreting data or using that data to solve problems and answer questions.

Job Title Median Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
All-Source Intelligence Specialists $56,578 (average military salary)* N/A
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $81,920** 3%**
Intelligence Specialists $59,969 (average military salary)* N/A
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers $61,380** 5%**
Private Detectives and Investigators $50,090** 8%**
Radio Operators $42,220** 2%**

Sources: *U.S. Department of Defense; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Intelligence Career Information: No Degree Required

All-Source Intelligence Specialists

All-source intelligence specialists may work in the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and are required to have a high school diploma or an equivalent. These specialists may work in a variety of environments and work with different sources of intelligence. They may collect and analyze intelligence information from imagery, human sources, and communications in an effort to support the military.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Detectives and criminal investigators aren't typically required to hold a college degree, but will need to graduate from an employer-approved training academy. Detectives and criminal investigators collect evidence, conduct interviews, interview and observe suspects, and participate in arrests. These roles actively conduct intelligence functions, gathering and examining facts in order to find truths.

Intelligence Specialists

Intelligence specialists work in offices, tents, on ships and on land as they are assigned. These specialists may work in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard, and are key to the success of military operations. Intelligence specialists work to collect, develop, and analyze intelligence information and deliver it to key leaders to provide awareness and identify targets. Intelligence specialists need a high school diploma or an equivalent and receive relevant training on the job.

Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers

Police and sheriff's patrol officers respond to calls, conduct patrols and traffic stops, as well as issue citations. Police and sheriff's patrol officers also observe and arrest suspects and collect evidence from scenes of crime. Most police and sheriff's patrol positions do not require a college degree, but they do require applicants to graduate from an agency-sponsored training academy. Police and sheriff's patrol officers may be responsible for collecting evidence, making these positions the front line of intelligence.

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators look for and analyze information regarding a variety of issues from financial wrongdoings to personal conflicts. These individuals may conduct background checks, search for missing persons, and investigate crimes. Private detectives and investigators may perform services for businesses, individuals, and lawyers, and play a key role in intelligence activities. Some employers may require a degree in a qualifying field, but many employers may seek those with a high school diploma and applicable experience.

Radio Operators

Radio operators process communications through radiotelephone devices including emergency communications. These operators include police communications officers, who take, respond to, and effectively record emergency transmissions. These initial transmissions may be fundamental intelligence in criminal cases. Radio operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

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