Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

CIA Weapon/Science Analyst Position

  1. Feb 19, 2012 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Seriously - if anybody here does know more about it, would they risk their own future career by posting what they knew on the internet?
  4. Feb 19, 2012 #3
    Just speculating, but since they are an intelligence agency I have a feeling it has a lot to do with analyzing other countries' weapon technology progression (nuclear, biological, chemical, etc) to determine the threat level they pose. I mean, who really knows what they do there, but I really doubt they're spending their funding on weapons development when there's other government departments/private contractors for that purpose.
  5. Feb 20, 2012 #4
    I hope you are aware of the process one must take in order to become a federal employee at an organization like the CIA.
  6. Feb 20, 2012 #5
    What exactly do you want to know? Weapons/technology analysts in the intelligence community pretty much try to figure out the state of other countries' technology, and the implications for the US.

    Three things to be aware of are that (1) everyone and their grandmother applies to the CIA online, so it's to your benefit to get human contact, at a job fair or preferably through a more personal connection; (2) the clearance process for CIA (and NSA) takes a ridiculously long time, so it's often not a great idea to look at these places straight out of school (unless you're comfortable with being unemployed for months to years while you wait for a final answer -- that could be "no"); and (3) intelligence work in general is nowhere near as cool as you probably think it is, though it can certainly be interesting depending on your inclinations.
  7. Feb 20, 2012 #6

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    That set of jobs (it's not just one; look at the degrees) has TS/compartmentalized written all over it. If you don't already have a clearance at all you will be waiting for a long, long time before the offer comes through. Even if you have a secret clearance it will take a long time. These are the kinds of jobs you apply for when you already have a job.

    When you answer the phone at your work now you use typical business phone courtesy: "Hello! This is John Doe, of the Acme Corporation, Coyote Supply Division." If you get this job you will answer your phone with "Hello." The mindset is quite different. You can't tell your friends what you do, you can't tell your family, and you definitely can't tell that cutie at the bar. When you leave work, you leave work.

    This is a big plus, BTW. Your current job of supplying the coyote with diabolical roadrunner capture devices requires you to take your work home with you, to think about it over dinner, to think about it in the shower, even to think about it while you talk up that cutie at the bar. Leaving work behind when you leave work is a blue collar luxury, but with this job you are not saddled with a blue collar salary.

    You will be writing reports, lots and lots of reports. They make that pretty clear in the job statement. You had better enjoy technical writing. You will be seeing stuff that sometimes is very cool, sometimes very scary. But for the most part it will be rather boring.
  8. Feb 20, 2012 #7
    So I take the hiring is mostly internal to the CIA? If not, how does one typically get a security clearance? Prior military/defense contractor service/employment or prior national lab employment?
  9. Feb 20, 2012 #8

    Yes. There's supposed to be reciprocity between the various government entities regarding clearances; e.g., if you have a Department of Energy Q clearance, you should be able to easily (after some paperwork) be granted a Department of Defense Top Secret clearance, modulo some requirements that can pop up when getting deeper into the intel world (e.g., polygraph requirements, proof of requirement of that level of clearance, etc.). But CIA and NSA are notorious for reinvestigating even people with a recently-completed investigation, and for having their own interpretations of the adjudication guidelines. Their processes are long and opaque, which is why it's generally a good idea to have another job to keep you fed while trying to apply to them. I've known a couple of people who had conditional offers from NSA upon graduating, but withdrew their applications and took other jobs because the process was drawn out so long.
  10. Feb 20, 2012 #9

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    "I'm a greeting card salesman".

    The lots and lots of reports is very clear. It is also likely you will be reading lots and lots of reports, because an obvious and practically universal question is "how have things changed between then and now".
  11. Feb 22, 2012 #10
    "extensive background investigation", and they are serious. My Q clearance is long gone, but even in the 70s/80s the FBI interviewed ALL my past faculty, ALL my hometown neighbors with "X" blocks of my home, asked everyone about drug use, womanizing, poked into all my finances, background checks on my family, and I’m sure more than I'll ever know. They wanted to know anything that someone may be able to hold over my head as blackmail, etc. In those days an “L” clearance was around 1-3 months and a “Q” could take 6 months.

    At the ripe old age of 57, my brother hit the FBI’s mandatory retirement age and was thinking about things like this. According to my now permanently retired brother, the “newer” security evaluations includes all your immediate family finances, including bank balances, investments, etc. (parents, siblings, children, and the same on your spouse’s side), with the aim to I.D. folks getting paid for leaks via family. Generally, I suspect the clearance will come with the “you give up your right to x, y, z legal protections”. I remember the old “Q” had some language to that effect.

    In short, this is no small step. My brother was never bored, but it was nothing like the FBI on TV. I suspect the CIA would be similar for someone that likes investigative work/research. However, based on my brother’s experience, your attention to detail and documentation of everything in government intelligence better be at the highest level. But for the mandatory retirement age, he’d still be there. Politics are serious in play, however, so thick skin is a must. You will never be able to discuss anything about your work, so you will never impress friends, your children’s friends, etc.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook