Skills Needed to Be a CIA Agent


The Central Intelligence Agency is a major organization within the United States intelligence community. Since its inception in 1947, the CIA has been associated with the spy profession. Clandestine work and operations is a big draw for many who seek opportunities in the CIA. Several specific skills are necessary if you are to become a CIA agent.


  • Foreign fieldwork often consists of operations in countries in which English is not the primary language. Knowledge of other languages is beneficial for an agent. Fluency in foreign languages is encouraged and even expected for core collection positions. The preferred languages include Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Farsi and Korean.

National and Regional Studies

  • A prospective CIA agent with a degree or extensive background of study in a particular nation is extremely valuable. Intelligence work often involves operations and intelligence work on foreign soil so a knowledge of the location of assignment will put a prospective candidate ahead of others.

Military Training

  • CIA agents often possess some form of military experience. Fieldwork might include conditions where military training is essential. Along with combat training of some form, any physical experience comparable to the armed forces can be beneficial. During its history, the CIA has recruited agents directly from the military.


  • Communication skills are paramount when it comes to being a CIA agent, and a significant subdivision of this branch of skills is deception. An agent working in the field will often have to evade or suppress the attention and suspicion of others. A background in the theater or formal training as an actor can be quite helpful. The two largest schools of thought associated with the craft of acting stress the technique of using one's imagination or personal experience to play a part. As a CIA agent, you will have to acquaint yourself with this methodology. The daily work of a CIA agent can involve a high degree of espionage.

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