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What a CIA Job Application Looks Like

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As the CIA's recruitment website asks, "Why work for a company when you can serve your nation?"

Whether you take a job at Google, IBM, American Airlines, or the Central Intelligence Agency is, of course, a personal decision, but should you decide to apply to become a secret agent man (or woman), here's what to expect:

Clandestine Service
Work Schedule: Full Time
Salary: $52,976 – $81,204

Operations Officer

"Operations Officers (OOs) are focused full time on clandestinely spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting, and handling individuals with access to vital foreign intelligence on the full range of national security issues. This human intelligence plays a critical role in developing and implementing US foreign and national security policy and in protecting US interests. OOs employ sound judgment, high integrity, strong interpersonal skills, and ability to assess the character and motivations of others to establish strong human relationships and trust that provides the foundation needed to acquire high-value intelligence from foreign sources. OOs deal with fast-moving, ambiguous, and unstructured situations by combining their “people and street smarts” with subject matter expertise and knowledge of foreign languages, areas, and cultures. An OOs career can include assignments in the NCSs three key areas of activity—human intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert action—on issues of highest interest to US national security, such as international terrorism, weapons proliferation, international crime and narcotics trafficking, and capabilities and intentions of rogue nations. Operations Officers serve approximately 50-70 percent of their time in overseas assignments that range typically from 2-3 years.

"Operations Officers are given great amounts of responsibility and trust early in their careers. While they work in teams, they often need to “think on their feet”, using common sense and flexibility to make quick decisions on their own. OOs have demanding responsibilities, often requiring them to work long hours so it is essential that they be psychologically fit, energetic, and able to cope with stress. They must know themselves very well and a sense of humor is also a plus."

A sense of humor? Well, I suppose buttering up potential double agents at Moscow cocktail parties requires a certain level of joke-telling ability. But, I digress. Let's keep going:

"All applicants must successfully complete a thorough medical and psychological exam, a polygraph interview and an extensive background investigation. US citizenship is required for both applicant and spouse.

"To be considered suitable for Agency employment, applicants must generally not have used illegal drugs within the last twelve months. The issue of illegal drug use prior to twelve months ago is carefully evaluated during the medical and security processing.

"Important Notice: Knowledge by non-Agency personnel of your association with the Central Intelligence Agency or the Intelligence Community may limit your ability to perform or preclude you from certain assignments. NCS applicants should therefore endeavor to protect the fact that they have applied and/or are thinking of applying to the NCS. We urge your discretion throughout the entire hiring process to ensure maximum flexibility for your potential NCS career. Further guidance will be provided as competitive applicants move through the hiring steps."

Essentially, if you go around blabbing to all your buddies that you're applying to be a CIA agent--arguably the absolute, coolest, most badass job on the planet--you're not CIA material.

Now, what about benefits? After all, spooks get cavities too.

Health Insurance

Federal Employees Health Benefits Plans (FEHBP): Employees can choose from the FEHBP list of fee-for-service, health savings accounts, and HMO health insurance plans that vary in costs and benefits. A comparison guide and plan brochures are available at

FEHBP does not place limitations on enrollments due to pre-existing conditions; however, employees should carefully review the plans to ensure they select the best coverage for their needs. Employees may change their insurance plan each year during an open season.

Sick Leave

Employees accrue sick leave each leave period to be used for personal illness, care of sick family members, adoption, and medical appointments. Full-time employees accrue four hours of sick leave per pay period, or up to 13 workdays per leave year. Unlimited hours of sick leave can be accumulated and carried over to succeeding years.


CIA employees have 10 paid Federal holidays per year: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Moving Expenses

The CIA will reimburse new appointees certain costs for personal and dependent travel expenses and shipment of household goods, not to exceed 18,000 pounds.

Fitness and Recreation Programs

The CIA offers on-site fitness facilities. Through the Employee Association, access to intramural teams as well as sports and theater tickets are available to employees and their families.

Credit Union

The Credit Union is a full-service financial institution with six branches and a 24-hour PC banking program. Membership entitles employees and their families to excellent service, competitive rates, and a full range of services including:

* Free checking, with no minimum balance, no monthly or per item fees, and interest paid on any balance
* ATM access to Credit Union, HONOR/Star, and Cirrus Network ATMs
* Free online banking with bill payer to make transfers, pay bills, view cancelled checks, verify account histories, and more, any  time of day or night
* Free direct deposit of your paycheck and payroll deduction options
* Convenience services such as check cashing privileges, bank-by phone service, safe deposit boxes, traveler’s cheques, US Savings bonds, and more
* Competitive rates on savings products and loans
* Mortgage and Equity Loans
* Free Auto Locating Service
* Deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Association


New employees without prior Federal service are automatically covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) three-tier system consisting of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Social Security, and FERS basic benefit. Minimum retirement age under FERS is dependent on date of birth, but ranges from age 55 to 57. After completing five years of qualifying overseas service, FERS participants may be eligible to participate in the FERS CIA Special Category retirement system. FERS Special allows an employee to retire at age 50 with 20 or more years of service.

Sounds sorta like a regular job, this whole spy business. Except for the "not telling anyone what you do or that you're even applying for the gig" part.

Oh, and retiring after 20 years. Where do I sign--oh, wait...I'm too old to apply. I feel like I was 22 yesterday and all of a sudden I woke up and I'm a middle-aged man. What the hell happened?
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.