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Directorate of Operations (Formerly known as the Clandestine Service)

Be accountable to the President, Congress, and the American public to strengthen national security and foreign policy objectives through the clandestine collection of human intelligence (HUMINT) and by conducting Covert Action as directed by the President – this is what you’ll do in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO).

Success in the DO requires a commitment to service, integrity, and excellence in all professional and personal actions.

  • Service. We put country first and the CIA before self. Quiet patriotism is our hallmark. We are dedicated to the mission, and we pride ourselves on our extraordinary responsiveness to the needs of our customers.
  • Integrity. We uphold the highest standards of conduct. We seek and speak the truth - to our colleagues and to our customers. We honor those CIA officers who have come before us and we honor the colleagues with whom we work today.
  • Excellence. We hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards. We embrace personal accountability, reflect on our performance and learn from that reflection.

Is the Directorate of Operations the right fit for you?

The DO seeks candidates with a variety of backgrounds, life experience, and professional and educational histories. Candidates must have (or be within one year of earning) a 4-year degree from an accredited college or university. While a GPA of 3.0 or better is preferred, each candidate’s overall academic performance is assessed. There is no preferred major or program of study.

Competitive applicants for DO positions can answer “Yes” when they ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do I thrive on challenge and significant responsibility?
  • Am I self-reliant, self-confident, adaptable, and flexible?
  • Do I work effectively on teams and individually?
  • Am I open to critical feedback? Do I learn from it and adjust?

All new DO officers joining the elite team are required to live and work under cover. Training provides you with the skills needed to live and work under cover, but only you can decide if hiding the truth from others (including many family members, friends, and close acquaintances) is a commitment you can accept.

All DO careers require successful completion of intensive DO core skills training. You must be available to participate in this training, some of which takes place outside of the Washington, DC area and lasts several consecutive weeks or months. (Additional detail about training requirements is provided to competitive applicants as they advance in the hiring process.)

The DO offers career opportunities for qualified applicants interested in spending a significant part of their professional careers and personal lives living and working overseas and also for those who prefer to be based in the Washington, D.C. area and have opportunities for shorter term foreign travel. All DO officers begin their careers posted to the Washington, D.C. area.


All DO professionals derive intense personal satisfaction from serving our nation, but complementing this are tangible benefits such as competitive pay and a comprehensive federal employee benefits package (including eligibility for the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the Federal Employee Retirement System). Follow this link to read more about available BENEFITS. A clandestine career requires you and your family to forgo external recognition for your contributions, but internal promotions and awards recognize accomplishments.

Joining the Directorate of Operations

DO officers join the service at the entry-level with starting salaries ranging between $54,044 and $82,840 (or between GS-8/5 and GS-11/10), depending on each applicant’s professional, academic, and life experience. Salary offers are non-negotiable.

Competitive applicants are placed in one of two programs.

  • The Clandestine Service Trainee Program(or CST Program) is for applicants having prior professional, military, or other non-academic experience.
  • The Professional Trainee Program (or PT Program) is for applicants joining the DO soon after completing college or university study. The PT Program is a precursor to the CST Program.

Your conditional offer of employment will identify the program determined to be the best fit for you.

A security clearance is required to join the DO. You must meet Agency and Intelligence Community standards to qualify for a security clearance. All applicants are encouraged to review all information available on the FAQ page before submitting an application.

Explore all occupations in the Directorate of Operations:

Posted: Apr 21, 2007 06:14 PM
Last Updated: Jun 19, 2015 11:14 AM