The Official Line
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is responsible for intelligence-gathering and is the only independent U.S. intelligence agency in the country. The Information Operations Center (IOC) is particularly concerned with offensive cyber operations.
According to the RAND report, the CIA prefers applicants to have a master’s degree in a cyber field as the minimum requirement. Potential candidates are drawn from job fairs, hacker conventions and inbound hires for the CIA’s IT department. Like the NSA, the CIA is trying to build talent from within.
It also has an intense hiring procedure. When you apply, the CIA will:
- Thoroughly review your résumé
- Conduct a phone interview
- Ask you to complete several online tests
- Arrange a face-to-face interview
- Conduct medical tests and a psychological screening
Sensitive classified positions also require a background investigation and polygraph testing. Even after you get the job, the CIA is going to keep an eye on you, periodically monitoring your life and activities (for more info, browse our Quick Guide to Security Clearances).
The Unofficial Line
There have been a number of revelations about CIA activity in the past few years (see the infamous Senate Committee’s 2014 Report on the CIA’s use of torture).
According to the 2013 “black budget” leaked by Snowden to the Washington Post, the CIA has been developing “aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems.”
If you work for a spy agency, be prepared to face tough ethical dilemmas.
Since a key tenet of working for the CIA is secrecy, we’re going to take Glassdoor reviews with a grain of salt. However, the general complaints seem to be centered on the stringent background checks/entry process, bureaucratic hassles and the lack of high pay.