The goal of every intelligence service is to produce reports consisting of evaluated information and forecasts that political, military, and government leaders can use in decision making. There are three categories of intelligence operations: strategic intelligence, tactical intelligence, and counterintelligence. Strategic intelligence agents keep track of world events, watch foreign leaders carefully, and study a foreign country’s politics, economy, military status, and scientific advances. Tactical intelligence consists of determining which groups hold power and looking at foreign policy, public opinion, and voting statistics. Economic factors include trade agreements, the gross national product, and possible famines, all of which can influence domestic and foreign policies. Counterintelligence consists of keeping valuable information away from the enemy and prevents subversion and sabotage.

Career Opportunities

Entry-level employees generally are assigned to gather information. With experience and training, they can qualify as analysts. Advancement may include postings requiring more responsibility and assignments in foreign countries. They are promoted and given assignments according to the needs of the government. Further advancement leads to management positions. Case officers stationed overseas gather intelligence and then relay the information to analysts who interpret the data for their reports. There are specialized analysts called technical analysts as well as cryptographic technicians who are experts at coding, decoding and sending secret messages. The Department of Defense International Security Affairs Division develops defense positions in political, military and foreign economic affairs, including arms control and disarmament. Among its functions are negotiating and monitoring agreements with foreign governments concerning military facilities and the status of the armed forces.

Types of Jobs

  • Lawyer
  • Program manager
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Translator
  • Contractor/consultant
  • Investigator/inspector
  • Computer engineer
  • Security officer

Qualifications + Skills

  • Foreign language fluency
  • Analytical skills
  • Understanding of the Intelligence Cycle (collection, fusion, analysis and production, dissemination)
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Research ability
  • Computer and technology literacy

PRO TIP: Use Maxwell’s resources! INSCT has career resources, offers Certificates of Advanced Studies, and sponsors the Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis (SATSA) here at Maxwell.

Sample Employers

Private Sector

  • BAE Systems
  • Boeing
  • General Dynamics
  • International Security Group, Inc.
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Northrup Gruman
  • Raytheon
  • Textron
  • United Technologies

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
  • The Brookings Institution
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies SAIC

Government Agencies

  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Army
  • Air Force
  • Navy
  • Marines
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • National Security Agency
  • FBI
  • Defense Criminal Investigative Service
  • Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Department of Treasury
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Sample Maxwell Classes

  • National Security Law
  • Perspectives on Terrorism
  • Fundamentals of Conflict Studies
  • Negotiating Resolution of Internal Conflict
  • International Security
  • National Security and Defense Transformation
  • Humanitarian Action
  • U.S. National Security: Defense and Foreign Policy
  • Responding to Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • U.S. Intelligence Community
  • Comparative Civil-Military Relations
  • U.S. Defense Strategy


  • INSCT at Syracuse University
  • IntelligenceCareers.gov
  • ASIS International
  • CI Centre
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies

Related Career Guides

  • Counterterrorism Intelligence
  • Foreign Service
  • Think Tanks
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