How to Become a

Criminal Intelligence Analyst

The complete career guide to be a Criminal Intelligence Analyst: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $79,620
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -1.2%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Fast Paced Career
    Career Attribute
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute

The primary responsibility of a criminal intelligence analyst is to gather intelligence as a means of protecting the United States from external threats and attacks. The CIA gathers information and passes it along to the president and other policymakers to assist in decisions related to national security.

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What is a Criminal Intelligence Analyst?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in central intelligence analyst roles:

  • Identify potential and real threats that require investigation
  • Gather intelligence through a variety of means, including translation, satellite imaging, decryption, and interrogation
  • Analyze intelligence and predict implications of findings on national security issues
  • Provide unbiased reports to the president and other political decision-makers
  • Perform covert operations as needed

A Day in the Life

Criminal intelligence analysts serve the U.S. government and its citizens by protecting the country against foreign threats. They’re responsible for identifying possible threats, investigating those threats by gathering information through a variety of sources, and then reporting findings to the president and other government decision-makers. Because the CIA is not involved in decision making or setting policies, the information they provide government officials is unbiased by political leanings.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a CIA agent vary depending on which analyst position is held. Analysts can focus on counterintelligence, cyber threats, economics, military, and weapons, among others. These analysts are called in to investigate when a crime against the country is suspected. For example, when it was believed that Russia hacked into U.S. systems during the 2016 election, CIA cyber threat analysts investigated the potential breach and provided their findings to government officials.

The sources used to investigate threats are numerous. CIA agents may translate newspapers, websites, and audio transmissions while investigating; they may interrogate suspects and informants; or they may work as spies and infiltrate known or suspected terrorist organizations. After investigation have completed and the analyst and his/her partners and leaders have drawn plausible conclusions, they provide the report of their finding to the president and other government officials for action.

Typical Work Schedule

Depending on the specific role, CIA agents may be required to work day, evening, and overnight shifts, weekends, and holidays. Overtime may be common, and frequent overseas travel may be required as well. Working as a CIA agent is not a 9-5 job.

Criminal Intelligence Analysts Specializations

  • Analysts are subject-matter experts in a variety of fields, such as counterintelligence, cyber threats, economics, military, or weapons. They conduct investigations and produce reports of their findings to government officials.
  • Business, IT, and Security Agents work in more administrative positions and conduct work that keeps the CIA running efficiently. These individuals may work in human resources, legal affairs, finance, or information technology positions, among others.
  • Directorate of Operations Agents conduct secret operations at the direction of the president. They perform their work undercover and may be unable to tell even friends and family members the details of their day-to-day job responsibilities.
  • Language Agents are experts at speaking and translating foreign languages. They perform translation services, and they teach other agents and government officials about the cultures and customs of foreign nations.
  • Science, Engineering & Technology Agents work in the research and development branch of the CIA. They analyze technologies and weapons from foreign countries to understand and potentially recreate the technology, and they develop innovative technologies.

Typical Employers

CIA agents are employed by the United States federal government.

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How To Become a Criminal Intelligence Analyst

The process of becoming a CIA agent depends somewhat on the specific role you’re applying for, though a bachelor’s degree at minimum is preferred for most roles. The specific bachelor’s degree sought should vary based on the role being pursued. For example, language agents will likely need a bachelor’s degree in the language(s) they want to specialize in translating, but cyber terrorism analysts will need bachelor’s degrees in information systems and technology to perform their roles.

The application process for a CIA agent can be lengthy. Some candidates are approved within a few months, while for others it can take more than a year. Applicants go through a series of tests to ensure they’re fit to perform their roles. They undergo thorough background checks, psychological evaluations, drug tests, and physical examinations. Because of the secrecy with which most roles must be performed, candidates are thoroughly evaluated before becoming agents in order to ensure they’re fit for the role.

For some positions, a master’s degree may be required or preferred. Again, the specific master’s degree pursued should be related to the field in which you wish to work. Science, engineering, and technology analysts may need advances degrees in engineering, information technology, data analytics, or data science.

Criminal Intelligence Analyst Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Criminal Intelligence Analyst salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Criminal Intelligence Analyst's can make an average annual salary of $79,620, or $38 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $53,810 or $26 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #143 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Criminal Intelligence Analyst. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Criminal Intelligence Analysts

  • 2.3%   Doctorate
  • 13.1%   Masters
  • 41.8%   Bachelors
  • 12.3%   Associates
  • 22.9%   College
  • 7.2%   High School
  • 0.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Criminal Intelligence Analyst job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -1,400 jobs for a total of 115,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -1.2% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #640 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Criminal Intelligence Analysts

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 48,500 2,700 3%
Federal government, excluding postal service 45,500 -4,400 -4%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 21,300 400 0%

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