How to become an intelligence analyst: The skills and education you’ll need

May 16, 2023 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Get the details on how to become an intelligence analyst, the salary outlook for this role and the online master's in global security that can accelerate your career in the field.

What does an intelligence analyst do?

An intelligence analyst is responsible for collecting, analyzing and interpreting complex information, usually related to security, defense, politics or economics from various sources to provide insights and recommendations to decision-makers in a particular field. These professionals serve as a first response to crises and use their analytical skills to identify patterns, make connections and draw meaningful conclusions in an effort to identify and mitigate threats.

The government is made up of many different roles that work together to protect and serve a country. However, at the heart of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are intelligence analysts. You can also find intelligence analysts working in the private sector for non-governmental agencies.

The specific duties of intelligence analysts vary depending on the organization they work for and the area of specialization they focus on. However, some common tasks and responsibilities of intelligence analysts include:

  • Collaborating with other intelligence professionals, including other analysts, agents and operatives, to develop a comprehensive understanding of critical situations.
  • Conducting research and analysis to identify potential threats, vulnerabilities and risks to national security, public safety or business operations.
  • Creating reports, briefings and presentations that communicate their findings and recommendations to decision-makers.
  • Gathering information from a variety of sources, including open sources, classified data and human intelligence sources.
  • Staying up to date on current events and trends that may impact the organization they work for, and providing timely and relevant insights.

Overall, intelligence analysts play a critical role in supporting decision-making processes by providing accurate and actionable intelligence that can help mitigate risks, enhance security and achieve organizational objectives.


What degree and skills do you need to be an intelligence analyst?

The educational requirements for becoming an intelligence analyst can vary depending on the specific employer and industry. However, a bachelor's degree is typically required, and a degree in a field related to intelligence analysis, such as global management, international relations, political science, criminal justice or computer science, can be beneficial.

Some employers may require a master's degree or other advanced degrees or certifications, particularly for more senior or specialized positions. A master's degree in intelligence studies, global security or a related field can provide additional training and knowledge to help prepare for a career as an intelligence analyst.

In addition to formal education, experience in areas such as data analysis, research and critical thinking are advantageous for a career in intelligence analysis. Many employers also look for candidates with strong communication skills, attention to detail and the ability to work well under pressure.


Intelligence analyst salary and job outlook

The critical role of intelligence analysis is highly valued, as its work is often confidential and sensitive, requiring a high degree of trust and professionalism. As a result of intelligence analysts’ specialized skills and expertise, these professionals are in demand across a variety of industries and have the potential for competitive, lucrative salaries.

O*NET OnLine, a database of occupational information, includes intelligence analysts in the same group as detectives and criminal investigators. According to O*NET Online, these roles had a median annual salary of $83,460 in 2021.

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Watch to learn more about ASU Online's master's in global security and how Arizona State University joined forces with New America to better understand future international security challenges.

Gain the intelligence analysis skills you need with an online degree from Arizona State University

Whether you’re just beginning your career journey or are looking to expand your education, ASU Online has several degrees that’ll help you on your way to becoming an intelligence analyst.

ASU Online’s Master of Arts in global security can aid your professional advancement in military, government and private sector careers. In this graduate program, you’ll utilize practical case studies and thought provoking curriculum to analyze the complex and pressing global and security challenges intelligence analysts face. Upon graduation, you’ll be equipped with the analytic skills and tools needed to identify and assess key global security threats, concepts and ideas.

If you’re just embarking on your higher education journey, ASU Online offers multiple bachelor’s programs that provide a valuable start to your intelligence analyst career path, such as:

Earn your graduate degree while working full-time

With the right strategy and support, you can strike a balance between your educational goals and busy life. Learn more about the time management and strategic planning it takes for working professionals to earn their online master's degree.


About ASU Online

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