We receive many e-mails and letters regarding employment and student programs. We have listed below the most frequently asked questions and their answers. Please review them before submitting a question. For additional information about the Agency's mission and history, please visit About CIA.
- I am a student considering a future career at the CIA. What courses should I take, or what major should I choose?
CIA employees represent a wide variety of disciplines from an even broader mix of academic backgrounds and experience. Therefore, we don't recommend one academic track over another in general.
The Agency's personnel requirements change from month to month as positions are filled and others become available. Our best advice to you is to do your very best and strive for good grades. Fluency in a foreign language is a good addition. Above all, understand that your choices and behaviors now are a reflection of your personal integrity, character and patriotism.
- What student programs does the CIA offer?
The CIA offers several programs for students considering a career in the intelligence field. Each program offers valuable educational and practical work experience that enhances the student's chosen field of study and prepares them for the future. These positions are extremely competitive and students are given a salary and excellent benefits. Review our programs and how to apply on our Student Opportunities page.
- I am in the military. Can I transfer to the CIA to fulfill my obligation?
No. You must fulfill your obligation to the Armed Services. You should apply via the Web site as your final year of service begins if you are interested in seeking employment with the Agency. You should also know that the CIA is not a veteran preference agency.
- Do I need to be a US citizen to work for the Central Intelligence Agency?
Yes, you must be a citizen of the United States when you apply to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA does not assist individuals in applying for US citizenship.
- If I don't have a degree, will experience count?
Having an undergraduate degree is not mandatory, but is highly recommended. Life experiences are taken into consideration. However, a standard requirement for overseas officers, intelligence analysts, and other non-clerical positions is a college degree, preferably an advanced degree.
- What is the minimum age for employment at the Agency?
You must be at least 18 years of age.
- What if I used drugs or still use drugs; will this disqualify me from employment?
To be considered suitable for Agency employment, applicants must generally not have used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs within the last 12 months. The issue of illegal drug use prior to 12 months ago is carefully evaluated during the medical and security processing. Drug abuse is one of the common reasons applicants are denied a security clearance. You cannot work for the CIA without a security clearance. You can find more information on this subject at Before You Apply on the Application Process.
- I live in a state that has legalized the use of marijuana. How will that affect my employment with the CIA?
Recently, Colorado and Washington legalized the sale of recreational marijuana under their state law. In addition, 20 states plus the District of Columbia have also legalized the use of marijuana for medical conditions, likewise under their state law. Despite the legalization of marijuana under state law, federal statute specifically prohibits CIA and other agencies from granting security clearances to users of controlled substances, including marijuana. Further, the use of marijuana and other controlled substances in violation of federal law remains a possible disqualifying criterion under Intelligence Community clearance eligibility standards. Regardless of whether an individual is located in a state that has legalized marijuana or in a foreign country where local laws allow it, and regardless of whether the Department of Justice enforces applicable federal criminal prohibitions in those jurisdictions, any use of marijuana may adversely impact that individual’s eligibility for a security clearance.
- What about Intellectual Property violations--how does the Agency view those?
The theft of copyrighted material has grown substantially in recent years and, like any other criminal activity, is of concern to the Agency. Illegal downloading, use, distribution, or sale of songs, games, software, and other electronic files will be carefully evaluated during security processing. While factors such as the amount, frequency, retention, and recency of such downloading activity will be taken into consideration, applicants are reminded that the theft of copyrighted material may be disqualifying for Agency employment.
- Is the CIA an Equal Opportunity Employer?
The Agency does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or sexual orientation in hiring or in granting, denying, or revoking security clearances.
- I have a tattoo. Will that prohibit me from Agency employment?
Tattoos will not disqualify you from gaining employment at the CIA, and all professionally-qualified persons are encouraged to apply.
Guidance For Applicants With Disabilities
- Does having a disability disqualify me for a position at CIA?
No, having a disability does not disqualify you for a career at CIA. The Agency encourages full employment of all qualified individuals with disabilities. The Agency cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of disability, race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, genetic information, status as a parent, or sexual orientation. The employee or applicant must be able to perform the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodations. In this regard, the employee or applicant’s disability will not preclude Agency employment. We look for the most highly skilled and qualified individuals to work for the Agency. Applicants are evaluated on their ability to perform the essential job functions of the position for which they are being considered.
- Do I need to disclose my disability when applying for a job?
You are not legally required to disclose your disability during the application process. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved a form to collect demographic information from applicants at the time of application. This information is used to determine if our recruiting efforts are reaching all segments of the population, consistent with Federal equal employment opportunity laws. Your voluntary responses are treated in a highly confidential manner and are maintained separately from your application package, as well as any personnel file that is created for you if you enter on duty with the CIA. Further, your responses are not released to selecting officials, anyone else who can effect your application, or to the public.
While disclosing your disability is not mandatory during the hiring process or after you are hired, having this information will enable us to work with you to identify reasonable accommodations as needed.
- Does the CIA utilize the Schedule A Hiring Authority to employ persons with disabilities?
Schedule A is a special appointment authority used by many federal agencies under Title 5 of the US Code. CIA does not appoint its employees under Title 5 and, instead, hires its employees under Section 8 of the CIA Act. Consequently, we do not use Schedule A. Nevertheless, the Agency is fully committed to hiring persons with disabilities.
- Are there resource groups available at CIA for people with disabilities?
CIA has a variety of resource groups comprised of employees who share a common affinity (gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic, and racial backgrounds) and their allies. CIA has two disability Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—the disAbility Advisory Panel (DAP) and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Council (DHHAC)—that are open to all employees who share the interest and goals of these ERGs. The DAP and DHHAC work closely with Agency leaders to increase awareness of disability issues and facilitate opportunities for employees with disabilities.
- How do I request a reasonable accommodation during the hiring process?
The Agency is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities have the resources and tools required to complete the hiring process and, later, to perform the duties of their jobs. If you are selected for employment processing and you require a reasonable accommodation during the hiring process, you will need to make a request through your Recruitment Center Point of Contact (POC). During the hiring process, communication is key. Applicants requesting a reasonable accommodation, or who have specific concerns, should work closely with their POC to address their unique situation.
- What are some examples of a “reasonable accommodation” that can be provided during the hiring process and later to assist in performing the job?
For those who have submitted an accommodation request during the hiring process, the CIA has responded by providing applicants with an accommodation, such as access to assistive technology, individualized testing support, Sign Language Interpreters, readers, and accessible transportation services. Other accommodations are also available depending on the unique circumstances of the individual applicant.
- Will I be able to complete medical processing if I have a disability?
All applicants selected for Agency employment must undergo the applicant clearance process which includes medical processing in relation to performing essential job functions. In most cases, applicants with a disability have successfully completed the medical processing without incident. Applicants who need assistance during the clearance process should inform their POC of the desired accommodation so that the various clearance processes can be optimally performed during your appointment.
- How will my medical information be handled during the hiring process?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) has privacy standards that the Agency’s Office of Medical Services must observe regarding the protection, release, and use of health information.
- If I have a disability, will I have the opportunity to live and work overseas?
Yes, Agency officers with disabilities have the opportunity, and continue to serve in overseas assignments for which they are qualified. Opportunities to live and work overseas vary and several factors are considered on a case-by-case basis when determining eligibility for an assignment. Medical clearance evaluations are required for all employees who are selected for overseas assignments to ensure individuals can perform the essential functions of the position, the medical condition or disability can be safely addressed overseas, and that employees will be able to complete the assignment without foreseeable harm to themselves or interruption of the mission.
- I’m required to take public transportation; will I be able access Agency facilities?
Public transportation is available to CIA headquarters and some off-site locations; however there may be some facilities where public transportation is not a viable option. If your use of public transportation is related to your disability, the Agency may be able to accommodate your disability by assigning you to a location that is accessible by public transportation.
- The position to which I am applying is designated as Contract Term. What is Contract Term employment status?
Candidates hired under this status will be contract term vice staff employees. Under a Contract Term appointment, you will receive federal employee benefits such as annual and sick leave, including federal holidays; life and disability insurance; and health care insurance in the same manner as a Career Staff appointment and in accordance with US Government regulations. Click this link to view the full .
The initial period of employment with the CIA for contract term status employees will be limited to a specified number of years. The CIA is not obligated to convert employees in this status from contract to staff either during the term of this contract, or following the expiration of this contract.
- I have applied for employment at the CIA. Can I interact with the CIA using its social media platforms?
Individuals who have applied to, or are interested in applying to, positions with CIA should not associate with CIA’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. That includes posting content, ‘friending’ or ‘following’ the Agency, and/or ‘liking’ or sharing content or commentary. Applicant communication with the Agency must be conducted in authorized channels, not via social media.
- How do I apply for a job at the CIA?
Carefully read the Application Process and pages.
- I submitted my resume over 45 days ago and haven't heard anything. Am I still being considered?
Our goal is to respond to each applicant within a 45 day period. However, the CIA receives over 10,000 resumes a month and, unfortunately, we are not able to contact everyone within that timeframe. If you have not heard from us within 45 days, we will not be offering you a position at this time.
- What is involved in the application process? How long does it take?
Because of the classified nature of our work at the Central Intelligence Agency, the application process is a lengthy one. Depending on an applicant's specific circumstances, the process may take as little as two months or more than a year.
Be prepared to undergo a thorough background investigation examining your life's history, your character, trustworthiness, reliability and soundness of judgment. We also examine your freedom from conflicting allegiances, potential to be coerced, and willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling and the protection of sensitive information. The CIA uses the polygraph to check the veracity of this information. The hiring process also includes a thorough mental and physical medical examination in relation to performing essential job functions.
- How will I be contacted if the CIA is considering me for employment processing?
If there is interest in your application, CIA recruiters will initiate contact with you by phone or email. Emails from CIA recruiters will have a .gov extension. Please check your email spam filter settings or spam folder to ensure receipt of these emails.
- What is the best browser to use to complete the application?
The application works best using Internet Explorer and Firefox.
- I submitted my resume online. Should I follow up with a paper copy?
A paper copy (via fax or US mail) is not necessary or advantageous after you have submitted your resume online. The online submission process was specifically designed to provide the applicant with quick entry into our active applicant database.
- My education and/or work experience has changed (significantly) since I applied, should I apply again?
If your application is still active, do not reapply. You will have an opportunity to provide additional education and/or work experiences as you move through the hiring process. If you were previously advised that you were not being considered and your application was closed, please complete and submit a new application.
- I am a US citizen but I currently work/live overseas. How can I apply?
For your safety and the security of our process, we do not want to have commercial communications by hard copy mail, telephone, email or internet with you while you are outside the United States or its territories. Do NOT apply online or contact the CIA if you are physically outside the United States or its territories. Throughout your process with us, you may travel abroad. However, you should never contact us from outside the United States or its territories once you are in process with us.
- What are some of the benefits CIA offers employees?
The Central Intelligence Agency offers many benefits. Most are competitive with private industry. These include:
- Paid Time Off
- Federal Health and Life Insurance
- Education and Training
- Health Services
- Child Care Center
- Credit Union
- Does the CIA offer benefits for my same-sex spouse?
As a result of the Supreme Court's decision to repeal Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, health, life, dental and vision benefits are now available to married same-sex couples, regardless of the state in which they reside. The marriage must have taken place in a state where same-sex marriages are allowed. Additionally, the word spouse refers to both same sex and opposite sex marriages. Same-sex couples who are in civil unions or other forms of domestic partnership other than marriage will remain ineligible for most Federal benefits programs.
- Does the Agency provide any foreign language incentives?
Yes, the Central Intelligence Agency has a comprehensive language program that fosters the acquisition and maintenance of foreign language skills. CIA employees who already possess excellent foreign language skills may be afforded an opportunity to earn monetary incentives for the language talents they possess. Click here to learn more about our foreign language incentives.