FBI intelligence analysts play a crucial role at the FBI. They research, analyze information, identify threats, and make recommendations on how to mitigate those threats.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the United States’ domestic intelligence and security service. It’s also its main federal law enforcement agency. Around 35,000 people work at the FBI investigating terrorism, cybercrime, organized crime, violent crime, and much more. FBI intelligence analysts are critical to the agency’s success, but what exactly do these professionals do? In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the job, including what your duties are, what education and experience you need, what you’re paid, and what the hiring process looks like.
FBI intelligence analyst: a snapshot
The FBI is a highly competitive employer, which means only a small percentage of applicants get jobs. Because intelligence analysis is a broad field, candidates come from a variety of backgrounds including area studies (Middle East, Asia, Africa, etc), international law, engineering, criminal justice, or history. Most positions require a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, while some require fluency in a second language. Potential responsibilities include data collection and analysis, threat evaluation, taking risk assessments, and developing intelligence products. Salary varies depending on your skill level, years of experience, the job’s GS grade, and location; ZipRecruiter lists the national average as $89,984.
You may also like: Certified courses by top universities
What are the duties and responsibilities of an FBI intelligence analyst?
FBI intelligence analysts specialize in different areas, but in general, all analysts will perform tasks such as:
Collecting and analyzing data
FBI intelligence analysts perform most of the organization’s essential goals. That includes collecting data and analyzing it with special tools and techniques to identify patterns, anomalies, and anything else of importance.
Identifying and assessing threats is an intelligence analyst’s main job. When collecting and analyzing data, they’re always searching for potential threats and evaluating which ones are legitimate.
Performing risk assessments
What are the chances of a threat becoming a real problem? Intelligence analysts need to evaluate all the factors and create risk assessments that inform the organization’s decisions.
Creating intelligence products
Intelligence products include reports, assessments, and other briefings. Intelligence analysts produce these products for decision-makers, so they must be written clearly, accurately, and no longer than necessary. Intelligence analysts also need to understand when information should be classified or unclassified.
Meeting with stakeholders
FBI stakeholders include other law enforcement agencies, private organizations, government officials, and the military. Intelligence analysts need to meet with stakeholders and discuss important (and often classified) information, so they should develop cooperative relationships built on trust.
What are the specific career paths for intelligence analysts?
There are different paths for intelligence analysts at the FBI. According to the FBI’s candidate packet, there are five tracks. All intelligence analysts perform at least one of the five:
Analysts must assess and communicate real-time judgments on specific threats and gaps in intelligence.
These analysts focus on improving intelligence collection.
Analysts working on this function gather information into strategic analytic products that enhance the organization’s understanding of vulnerabilities, threats, and intelligence gaps.
Target analysis focuses on sharing information across teams, so intelligence is accurate and on time.
A reports officer shares raw intelligence through media, documents, and general information, which helps determine patterns.
What education and experience do FBI intelligence analysts need?
The FBI typically requires a candidate to have at least a bachelor’s degree. As is common with many careers, getting a master’s degree will help you land higher-level jobs. What’s required depends on the job role and grade (General Standard level), which is the grade used to determine the salary for a government job. Potential backgrounds for FBI intelligence analysts include:
- Area studies (Middle East, Africa, Asia, etc)
- Forensic accounting
- International law
- International relations
- Political science
The FBI also looks for candidates with expertise in languages like Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Farsi, Russian, Punjabi, Korean, and so on.
What skills does the FBI look for?
Intelligence analysts need a variety of analytical and communication skills. The candidate manual lists many of them, including:
- Oral, nonverbal, and written communication
- Critical thinking
- Adaptive analytic thinking
- Attention to detail
- Stress tolerance
How much money do FBI intelligence analysts make?
Jobs with the FBI use the GS pay scale, which has 15 grades starting from student jobs/internships up to top-level management and supervisor jobs. Each of the 15 grades has 10 steps within it. According to information from the FBI, entry-level intelligence analysts usually start at GS-7 (with an undergrad degree) or GS-9 (with a graduate degree). GS-7 pay started at $40,082 while GS-9 started at $49,028 on the 2023 GS payscale table. According to ZipRecruiter, high-level intelligence analysts can make as much as $121,500 across the United States. The base pay is adjusted according to the job’s cost of living and how the salaries of private sector employees change each year. This means if you’re working as an FBI intelligence analyst in Hawaii, which has the country’s highest cost of living, you’ll earn more than if you lived in Mississippi, which has the country’s lowest cost of living.
Can you get a job with the FBI right out of college?
The FBI job market is very competitive, but you can get a job right out of college. The organization has programs like the Honors Internship Program, which is for full-time college sophomores, juniors, seniors, or those in graduate school. It is a paid 10-week summer program. They also have the Collegiate Hiring Initiative, which is a full-time entry-level hiring program. Graduating seniors and people with undergraduate, graduate, or Ph.D. degrees are eligible. A full list of requirements can be found on the FBI jobs website.
What does the hiring process look like?
Intelligence analysts come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, but they all have to go through the same process. There are multiple phases all designed to assess your eligibility and qualifications. If you’re interested in working for the FBI as an intelligence analyst, here’s what the process looks like:
Submit an online application
You’ll need to answer questions about your specialized skills, workplace experiences, and competency.
Test: Phase 1
Phase 1 is completed online. You’ll take a multiple-choice assessment of your logical reasoning, personal experiences, and analytical thinking.
Test: Phase II
This timed writing assessment simulates reviewing intelligence and preparing intelligence products.
Interview: Phase III
During the interview, the FBI assesses your communication, organization, planning, analytical, and interpersonal skills.
If you’ve passed the interview stage, you’ll be offered a Conditional Job Offer. If you accept, you’ll go through a thorough background investigation. This includes a drug test, fingerprinting, polygraph examination, Personnel Security Interview, credit and arrest checks, and verification of your education.
Basic field training course
Assuming you passed the background check, you’ll be scheduled for a 12-week Basic Field Training Course (BFTC) at the FBI Academy. You’ll be a New Intelligence Analyst Trainee. You’re considered an employee at this point, so you’re paid.
Once you’ve graduated basic training, you’ll be assigned to a division at FBI headquarters or one of the 56 field offices around the United States.
What are the “Core Competencies?”
Every FBI candidate – not just the intelligence analysts – must demonstrate the eight Core Competencies. These are eight specialized traits that represent everything the FBI looks for in employees. They are:
The FBI is not a place for loners or people who want to be left alone. You’re expected to work with a team on ideas, problem-solving, and meeting every goal. That includes demonstrating “political savvy,” which helps you navigate the organization’s social, political, and technological systems smoothly.
You should show excellent communication skills whether you’re writing or speaking. Ideas need to be presented clearly, concisely, effectively, and persuasively. Employees also need to understand nonverbal cues, respond appropriately to questions, and identify the most important information.
Flexibility and adaptability
The FBI’s work is constantly changing due to local, national, and international events. Employees need to be flexible and adapt very quickly. If you thrive in environments with new challenges, the FBI will offer that.
Professionalism, respect, and sensitivity to differences are important in the workplace. The FBI values employees who can keep an open mind, resolve and manage conflict, and build a good rapport with others.
Intelligence analysts are expected to initiate or participate in new projects, show interest in new challenges, and respond well to problems and additional tasks. Anticipating new projects or problems is also a highly desirable skill.
The FBI wants every employee to display leadership, even if they aren’t in a leadership role. They want people who can motivate and inspire others, mentor their colleagues, and earn the respect and confidence of colleagues.
Problem-solving and judgment
Problem-solving is a daily responsibility for intelligence analysts. You’re expected to evaluate and identify problems, gather the data you need to make good judgments, and accept responsibility when decisions are questioned.
Organizing and planning
Intelligence analysts juggle a lot of data and tasks at once, so good organizational and planning skills are critical. You’re expected to identify priorities, manage your time well, and plan what you need to accomplish every task.