Friday, July 17, 2009

Part 3 -- The Good News! (How To Get A Job In Intelligence)

Part 1 -- Introduction
Part 2 -- The Intelligence Job Market From 20,000 Feet

The US National Security Community, while the best known, is not, however, the only place to get a job as an intelligence analyst. There are many jobs available in law enforcement, business, and with non-governmental organizations. While not all of these jobs label themselves "intelligence" positions (and more on that later), they all require what is essentially the intelligence analyst skill set.

Intel Analyst Jobs In Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies employ a significant number of intelligence and crime analysts. The FBI alone employs more than 2000 analysts (with plans to hire 321 in 2010). While many of these positions are in Washington, the FBI also stations analysts around the country in Field Intelligence Groups, making this an attractive hiring option for people who can't or don't want to move from home.

Beyond the FBI, however, there are a number of other Federal agencies and organizations that use analysts. The Department of Homeland Security employs a very large number of intelligence analysts while the Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Department Of Treasury (through its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) both employ intelligence analysts. One of the best places to work, I think, is the US Coast Guard. We have placed a number of interns with the "coasties" and they all come back pretty positive about their experience.

All of these agencies are part of what is formally called the US Intelligence Community and the total number of jobs available should have been included in the analysis I did yesterday. I am mentioning these positions here primarily because students have a tendency to focus on the CIA when thinking about intelligence jobs and they ignore these other places with intelligence functions that are every bit as interesting and as challenging as the ones in the Agency.

Beyond The Feds

If these other federal agencies are often overlooked, an even more ignored source of intelligence jobs is state and local law enforcement. There are few good estimates out there regarding the total number of jobs in law enforcement intelligence/crime analysis but my best guess is about 9000.

I get this number by looking at the total number of state and law enforcement agencies in the US (17,876) and dividing it, roughly, in half. I know that most of the agencies in the US have less than 50 officers and that agencies with less than 50 officers are unlikely to have anyone in intel. I also know, however, that some big cities (like New York) have large and very well developed intelligence units. So, I am ball-parking it here again but 9000 sounds about right.

If the numbers I came up with yesterday make any sense at all, then this should translate into about 500 entry level intelligence analyst/crime analyst positions per year opening up in law enforcement around the US.

Unlike the numbers for the big federal agencies, however, there are several reasons why this number could be low. For one reason, California alone estimated that it would need 160 analysts in 2005 for law enforcement and they also estimated, at the time, that the demand would continue to grow.

Another good reason for growth in this field is the increasing popularity of a concept, born in the UK, called "intelligence-led policing." To the extent that this catches on in the US (and it appears to have some traction here), it cannot help but to increase the number of intelligence billets in state and local law enforcement agencies.

Finally, there appears to be a growing interest in law enforcement and intelligence analysis at the career level. The International Association Of Crime Analysts boasts some 1500 members and, while the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts doesn't advertise its numbers, insiders tell me that it probably has 2-3000 members. Both of these organizations are international but the largest body of members reside in the US.

Why Not Law Enforcement?

There are three reasons why these types of jobs often get overlooked or sidelined. In the first place they are not easy to find. If you want a job in local law enforcement, you have to be looking at state and local government job boards. Some agencies advertise broadly but most do not. Finding these jobs can be a pain.

The second reason that they may not seem appropriate is that some require an applicant to be "sworn" or a full-fledged member of the police force. While my impression is that this is changing, I am virtually certain that a number of these jobs require the analyst to be a cop first and an analyst second.

Finally, these jobs don't pay particularly well. The pay is not awful in most places and in some places it is not bad at all, but, by and large, it does not equal the pay (even when adjusted for cost of living) of an analyst in the Federal government or in business (which I will discuss next).

Next: Even Better News!
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Kerry Peachey said...

Internationally, things 'down under' seem to be quite different for law enforcement analysts. Firstly, the positions are well advertised and normally receive large volumes of applications. Secondly, most are very well paid, sometimes at higher rates than members of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC). Some analysts within Federal bodies are paid as specialists often at very large salaries (some with operational composites attached). Lastly, the vast proportion of analysts (as opposed to intelligence officers where a greater proportion are sworn) are unsworn. Interesting to see how things vary. For info, I work for the Federal Police.

Kristan J. Wheaton said...

The Australian professional intelligence community also seems to be pretty active. I noticed as part of my research for this series that the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers has been around since 1991 or so.


Anonymous said...

Professor Wheaton,

As an Intel student at Mercyhurst who plans on graduating in 2010, I am extremely pleased that you are writing a series just like this. It allows us, as students, to get more insight on what type of challenges we may face in the upcoming year and what potential opportunities we may have because of your research.

Thank You,
‘Hurst Intel Student (2010)

Kristan J. Wheaton said...

You are welcome! (BTW, we will discuss this in more detail in Strategic as well...)

Kerry Peachey said...

AIPIO are still active and in fact have their annual conference in two weeks in Canberra with a number of well respected intell professionals speaking. They also send out journals on a regular basis too which are a very useful resource. Enjoying your series too!

Anonymous said...

Kris, congratulations on this great series of threads! You wrote about the dynamics involved in getting a job in law enforcement intelligence. There is one thing, however, that you may have overlooked: politics.

Take the Pennsylvania State Police as one example. Although The PSP employs intelligence analysts, these particular jobs are classified as "non-civil service" jobs. That means that these jobs, if they're not filled from within the PSP, are often filled with "political hires"--candidates placed into the positions by politicians, regardless of qualifications or background.

Sadly, politics can be a factor as well.

John Brandes said...

Kris - Great stuff. I'm looking forward to your postings on "How to get a private-sector job for returning Military Intel veterans..." ;-)

Deborah Osborne said...

Kris - most analysts in local law enforcement are civilian.