What To Major In To Work For The Cia

Deciding what to major in to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is no small feat. A wide variety of fields are open to individuals interested in pursuing careers in the CIA, including information technology, finance and accounting, and language studies. Each field offers unique opportunities to CIA professionals and provides different skills for the agency’s operations. The availability of clandestine and clandestine operations careers in the CIA provides potential applicants with the chance to pursue their career interests in the CIA.

Attending a four-year college before applying to the CIA is a must. A strong educational background is required to get the most out of a job within the agency. Acquiring a degree in international relations, political science, or a relevant language helps applicants stand out as potential candidates. Applicants to the agency should have a broad knowledge base in politics and international relations in addition to a degree.

Programming and computer technology are necessary skills for working at the CIA. A degree in computer science or technology is a beneficial choice for anyone interested in a career within intelligence. Not only does specialization in programming help promote an understanding of complex office software, but it is also a requirement for operating many of the agency’s proprietary programs. A degree in programming also serves as a stepping stone for securing a career in analytics and cyber security.

Accounting and finance are also important professional fields for working in the CIA. Individuals who specialize in accounting and finance will improve the agency’s bookkeeping procedures and provide its leadership with innovative ideas on how to effectively manage its budget. Specializing in economics and finance can also contribute to a career in the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center and other operations.

Having language skills is an invaluable asset to anyone considering bringing their talents to the CIA. Specializing in a foreign language not only provides an increased chance of securing a position in the agency, but also increases an applicant’s marketability within other government organizations and agencies. Learning a foreign language also enables the prospective CIA officer to gain a more comprehensive understanding of foreign cultures and societies.

Another great major to consider for anyone wanting a career in the CIA is business. Having a degree in business management or law helps applicants understand how the agency operates, increases their capacity for strategy, and equips them with problem solving skills. Furthermore, a degree in business management or law is necessary for those looking to become a CIA officer or special agent.

The CIA also looks favorably upon applicants with degrees in mathematics, engineering, and biomedical sciences. Possessing a background in a highly specialized field is a major plus for those looking forward to a career in the CIA. When applying for a job position in the CIA, having a background in these fields increases the likelihood of securing one of the coveted positions.

Social Sciences

Social sciences are an oft overlooked area of study within the CIA, and those who specialize in this field stand to benefit from their knowledge while working in the agency. Social sciences provide a unique emergent insight into how the world works and its people interact. With an excellent understanding of geography, anthropology, and other fields, prospective CIA officers gain skills for making deductions about inter-cultural affairs. Specializing in a social science also allows for future CIA officers to gain a better understanding of human behavior and its effects on international politics.

Having a knowledge of history is also very advantageous in positions within the CIA. Studying history gives prospective CIA officers an understanding of foreign and domestic politics and events. This allows them to gain an understanding of international and national security dynamics. History can also provide insight into current policies and decision making at the agency and their effects on the world outside the agency’s walls.

Becoming an expert in a chosen field is key to having success within the CIA. Whether it’s an honed expertise in international relations or a specialty in information technology, being able to bring a unique set of skills to the agency is beneficial for officers and analysts alike. The CIA looks for people who can excel in their area of expertise and at the same time serve the agency by gaining insights into international politics and security.


Certain communication courses are invaluable when working in the CIA. Courses such as public speaking, nonverbal communication, and diplomatic communication all aid prospective CIA officers in developing an effective style of communication. These courses allow these officers to acquire the skills necessary for communicating confidently and assertively within the agency.

Developing strong language skills is also very important when entering the CIA. Being able to portray one’s thoughts clearly in both writing and speaking is critical for success in the agency. Communication requires the ability to convey complex ideas in a concise and understandable fashion. Courses covering rhetoric, argumentation, and written communication skills are becoming increasingly important for potential CIA hires.

Developing collaborative capabilities is yet another important skill to have when working in the CIA. Being able to work with a team to accomplish the agency’s mission is key. Group problem solving and discussion courses are also important for developing these skills. Such courses also allow any individual seeking to join the agency to further refine their communication abilities by learning how to present and communicate effectively with their peers.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are necessary for any CIA officer to succeed. Being able to assess difficult situations quickly, resolve conflicts, stay calm under pressure and act responsibly are traits shared by the agency’s most successful officers. Developing problem-solving skills, self-awareness, stress management, and decision-making abilities are essential to any CIA job.

In addition to the mentioned skills, remaining up to date on current events is also important. Understanding what is happening in the world keeps CIA officers informed and provides them with a larger context to make decisions. Courses in journalism, media studies, and cultural studies aid potential CIA hires with keeping current on events taking place around the world.

Leadership plays a critical role in the CIA and requires officers to manage staff, resources, and operations. Leadership courses help any prospective CIA officer acquire the necessary skills to assume a position of authority within the agency. Such courses also help develop interpersonal and public speaking abilities necessary for working within the CIA.


Investigation is another important skill to attend to for those interested in joining the CIA. Courses such as criminal justice and forensics are important for developing the rigorous and attentive mindset necessary for becoming a successful investigator. Having a degree in criminal justice is a great back up for applicants who may not have investigative experience, but want to develop the necessary skills for the job.

Understanding the intelligence and security intricacies of a country is also beneficial for employment in the agency. Classes in counterintelligence, sociology and international relations are necessary for any potential CIA hire to be successful in the field. Additionally, internships with government agencies and businesses in the private sector help individuals become well-rounded and knowledgeable before they enter the agency.

Few students have the opportunity to pursue careers in the CIA, so it is important to have a well-thought-out plan of attack if they decide to apply. Deciding on a major that suits the CIA’s needs and developing the necessary skills to be successful in the agency is key to having a successful career. With the right preparation, anyone can become a valuable asset to the CIA.

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Rosemary Harrold is an accomplished writer and researcher who is both passionate and knowledgeable about the world of secret services. She gained an MSc in International Relations in 2017 and has since built on her expertise with numerous publications on intelligence agencies, their practices, and recent developments. Rosemary has been writing about IBM, CIA and FBI activities since then, as well as providing in-depth analysis on intelligence-related topics.

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