How Do You Become an Intelligence Research Specialist?

A wide array of exciting positions awaits the potential Intelligence Research Specialist. Most positions involve working with federal or state government agencies, and they are all meant for those who love to analyze data.


An Intelligence Research Specialist collects data from various sources including electronic surveillance, human intelligence assets, and information systems. Data are collected, analyzed, reported, and plans are devised to stop illegal activity or catch wanted criminals.

Where They Work

An Intelligence Research Specialist that works for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) is part of a team that conducts drug investigations and promotes counter-drug operations. They are responsible for identifying drug trafficking routes, drug cultivations sites, and analysis of the structure of drug trafficking organizations.

The Intelligence Research department of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) collects national security data with the intention of identifying and stopping terrorist activities, arson rings, organized crime groups, and gang activity. They work with federal agents in the field quickly turning ever-changing collections of information into usable data.

Border Patrol agencies have a research department that works behind the scenes supporting the border patrol agents. They supply much needed intel to the officers and agents that are face-to-face with possible criminals and hazardous situations.

Work Environment

The work environment for an Intelligence Research Specialist can vary depending on what agency they work for, and depending on what type of research they are performing. The specialist will have to be an expert in using information technology to compile data and will have access to classified and sensitive information. Much of what the specialist will be analyzing will be found in databases and spreadsheets, but communication is a key factor as information comes from human interaction as well. They could work in an office or laboratory in addition to traveling to different field offices, dangerous locations, and serving on committees to coordinate with other offices.


You must be a US Citizen to work in most of the federal agencies that hire Intelligence Research Specialists. You will have to pass a background check, drug test, and qualify for a top secret security clearance. Traveling for work and working long hours are also requirements for the position. Typical education requirements are that you possess a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field, criminal justice, or foreign affairs. Some agencies require written assessments and a medical examination, including a psychological assessment, to be considered for the position. The FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers) offers a 10 day intelligence analyst training program that provides an introductory level training on law enforcement intelligence analysis for existing law enforcement officers, analysts, agents, officers, and auditors. The only requirement beyond being in one of those positions is to have basic computer skills.

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A career as an Intelligence Research Specialist combines law enforcement and technology in a way that stops dangerous crimes, assists in catching federal criminals, and catches drug and human trafficking groups. Considering the increasing level of technology and privacy issues, the position will continue to be important to the safety of our society.