Subject Area Keywords

Intelligence analysis, Intelligence studies/education


Working at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is shrouded in mystery. Film, television and fictional spy stories are often the leading sources of information that allow the general public insight into the “spy world.” These often inaccurate depictions not only cause careers at the CIA to be misunderstood, but also create false perceptions of the employees of the CIA. Because of this, the general public—including those interested in pursuing a career within the CIA—is not presented with an accurate view of the personal aspects regarding motives, perceptions, and costs related to working at the CIA. In order to aid those individuals interested in pursuing a career within the CIA, this study will examine the available information provided by the CIA’s official website, determine what information may be lacking, and attempt to provide a better depiction of the personal dimensions of working at the CIA through a variety of firsthand accounts provided by former members. By providing potential employees with this information, they will be better able to weigh the costs and benefits of working at the CIA and make a more informed decision in regards to their career path, reducing cultural mismatch and turnover.


All statements of opinion, or analysis expressed in this paper are those of the author and the former members of the Central Intelligence Agency interviewed. They do not reflect official positions of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US government entity. Nothing in the content should be interpreted as asserting or implying US government endorsement of the author’s statements or views.