Careers & Internships

Rss Feed

Core Collector

Clandestine Service and Professional Trainee Programs

Work Schedule: Full Time
Salary: $54,044 – $82,840
Location: Washington, DC metropolitan area

The National Clandestine Service offers two entry-level programs for field-based Core Collector careers.

The Professional Trainee (PT) Program is for applicants who have a minimum of a bachelor's degree but may often lack substantive work experience, and are generally in the 21-25 year age range. Upon entry on duty, PTs are offered the opportunity to gain experience through a series of responsible Headquarters-based assignments that expose them to core aspects of the NCS mission prior to joining the CST program for training and field deployment.

The Clandestine Service (CST) Program is for applicants who have a minimum of a bachelor's degree and several years of substantive business/work or military experience before applying, and are generally in the 26-35 year age range. There is a 35 year maximum age requirement.

Minimum requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree and a strong academic record, with a preferred GPA of 3.0 or better, and a strong interest in international affairs. Candidates must possess solid interpersonal and communications skills, including the ability to write clearly and accurately. Foreign travel and area knowledge, prior residency abroad, cross-cultural sensitivity, and foreign language proficiency (particularly in the critical languages of Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Indonesian, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu) are highly desirable. Degrees of interest include, but are not limited to, international business, finance or international relations, economics, physical science or nuclear, biological or chemical engineering. Competitive candidates will also possess personality traits that will allow them to be successful Core Collectors, including the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, the ability to “think on their feet”, and the ability to deal effectively with individuals at all levels—often in fast-breaking and rapidly changing situations.

When applying to a National Clandestine Service position, attach to the online application the following:

  • A one page cover letter describing why you are interested in an NCS career and what characteristics and experiences distinguish you from other applicants
  • College transcripts


All applicants must successfully complete two personal interviews, a thorough medical and psychological examination, a polygraph interview, and extensive background investigation.

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. (Processing generally takes approximately 12 months.)

Core Collector

Core Collectors, following successful completion of the 18-month Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) Program, serve on the front lines of human intelligence collection overseas for the National Clandestine Service (NCS). The CST Program trains and certifies individuals to perform the full range of steps leading to the clandestine recruitment and handling of sources with access to vital foreign intelligence. Within the Core Collector profession, there are two career tracks—described below. NCS management places an individual in one of these career tracks based on skills demonstrated during the training phase and/or the needs of the service. All Core Collectors, whether designated as Operations Officers (OO) or Collection Management Officers (CMO), are expected to engage in the full cycle of clandestine operations while serving in overseas assignments. Therefore, all applicants seeking entry into the Core Collector ranks of the NCS must demonstrate the skills, abilities and personality traits necessary for the safe, secure, and effective conduct of clandestine intelligence collection operations overseas.

Core Collector/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.

Core Collector/Collection Management Officer

Core Collector-certified Collection Management Officers (CMOs) oversee and facilitate the collection, evaluation, classification, and dissemination of foreign intelligence collected from clandestine sources. CMOs play a critical role in ensuring that foreign intelligence collected by clandestine sources is relevant, timely, and addresses the highest foreign policy and national security needs of the nation. CMO's are substantive experts in their area of specialty, have a comprehensive knowledge of how National Clandestine Service operations are conducted, and an in depth understanding of overseas operating environments as well as current and looming international issues.

During overseas assignments, CMOs work closely with the OOs to ensure that collection operations are designed to meet intelligence priorities fully and accurately; that recruitment of and interaction with clandestine sources is as effective as possible; and that resulting intelligence reports convey relevant information clearly and accurately—while at the same time protecting collection operations as well as individual sources. In addition and as required, CMOs—like OOs—are engaged in the full cycle of collection operations (spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting and handling sources).

During Headquarters assignments, CMOs interact directly with the full range of intelligence consumers—from the most senior policymakers to analysts throughout the intelligence, defense, and law enforcement communities—to identify and prioritize intelligence collection needs and to ensure they are communicated accurately to Operations Officers in the field. Typically, Core Collector/CMOs spend approximately 40-50 percent of their career overseas.

Working as part of a team or independently with minimal supervision, CMOs must be able to deal effectively with individuals at all levels, often under the pressure of fast breaking, sometimes ambiguous, situations and rapidly changing intelligence priorities. CMOs must have excellent verbal and written communications skills and well developed time management and multitasking abilities along with rock solid judgment.

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.

To Apply:

Save the position(s) that interest you in the job cart. You can add up to four (4) positions. Job cart selections will only be retained during this site visit, so be sure to click “Apply Now” before closing the browser window. After clicking "Apply Now" you will be taken to the application account creation page. The positions will appear in the cart once you have created an account. DO NOT submit multiple applications; this will only slow the review of your application and delay processing. Please read the Application Instructions carefully before you begin the online application process.

Application Instructions

An equal opportunity employer and a drug-free work force.

Posted: Apr 21, 2007 06:16 PM
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2015 11:48 AM