What is an Intelligence Analyst?

Intelligence AnalystAn intelligence analyst primarily works for the government in some capacity, either directly through a federal agency or indirectly with a private business that works with the government, such as Lockheed Martin. Analysts undergo extensive training, usually specialize in an area of intelligence gathering, and report to a hierarchy of command.

Job Responsibilities

An intelligence analyst might perform a variety of tasks on a daily basis in an effort to achieve his primary goal, which is information gathering and analysis, according to FBI Jobs. While businesses might employ analysts to streamline efficiency, the government uses intelligence operatives in more specific ways. The FBI designates three tracks for intelligence agents: collection and reporting, tactical, and strategic.

Collection and reporting agents gather and assess intelligence that’s later used to substantiate claims or suspicions. Working quickly and usually under deadlines, these agents use media and other documentation to report on raw data. They also identify different ways to collect data, including using people as collection sources. Tactical agents work in the field gathering intelligence on assignments for specific purposes. They make judgment calls while in the field because they work in real time, which helps those around them understand threat possibilities and recognize trends. Strategic analysts take intelligence data that’s been gathered already and consolidate the information into a presentable format. In essence, they make it easier for different departments within the government to access and understand collected data. They also analyze data in order to identify and report on imminent threats.

Education and Training

According to the FBI job posting website, intelligence operatives need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. The agency does not specify a type of 4-year degree, but it can be assumed based on the job responsibilities and tasks that certain degrees might be more useful to this position. Degrees that emphasize analytical thinking, communication, statistical patterns and computer science would support intelligence gathering. The FBI has its own training program for its operatives, and government agencies in general would also host training programs to prepare their agents for work in specific roles. The U.S. Army, for example, outlines a program that includes 10 weeks of basic combat training and 16 weeks of “Advanced Individual Training” for its intelligence analysts. During training, Army analysts study military symbols, critical thinking, map and chart composition, and computer systems among other things.

Job Statistics for Analysts

Payscale reports that intelligence agents make just over $69,000 per year on average, but people in this position are also likely to earn substantial bonuses on top of their salaries. This career field is highly skewed toward men, and those who work as analysts report widespread satisfaction in their roles. Most analysts have between five and nine years of experience. Top employers for this position include the U.S. armed forces, businesses that contract with the armed forces, and federal agencies such as the Department of Defense.

Related Resource: Homeland Security Jobs are in Disaster Response

The demand for analysts who specialize in high-security intelligence continues to grow in light of security threats both online and in the real world. While many analysts work for local, state and federal government organizations, these professionals may also work in the private sector to help businesses uncover fraud, reduce waste, run more efficiently or hire better staff members. An intelligence analyst serves a vital role in ensuring the safety of both military personnel and civilians.