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An intelligence analyst is an employee of the government who pieces together information from a variety of sources in order to assess threats and prevent attacks from interior and exterior enemies. An analyst will work both in the office and in the field working with classified and public information to complete investigations and create assessments on their targets. Intelligence analysts perform a variety of tasks in order to ensure the safety of their country.
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An intelligence analyst will usually work in a specific area in which he is an expert or something that they have a strong familiarity with. They will then be assigned a task or target and acquire as much information as possible on the target. This will involve working out in the field, questioning witnesses and conducting specific searches on locations. Basic computer-based research, usually completed in an office setting, will also be completed in conjunction with the fieldwork. An analyst will then combine all of this information into an informative and readable summary for their employers.
They will also have the task of assessing threats from locations and specific groups at home and around the world. This will entail going over large portions of data, histories, geographical information and statistics in order to create as complete a picture as possible. The analyst must then separate the useful information from everything else and use that data to create a comprehensive report.
An analyst will also have to work closely with local governments, corporations and private individuals in order to gather as much information as possible. They will also have to be able to interpret data from foreign countries and be able to familiarize themselves with foreign locations quickly and thoroughly. The ability to speak languages other than English is a desired skill.
Intelligence analysts must have strong, reading, writing, communication and research skills as well as strong critical thinking and reading comprehension abilities. Analysts are also expected to have expert computer skills including database maintenance as well as some experience in hacking computers.
Intelligence analysts will also have to be in good health as the job will require a great deal of travel and the analyst may find themselves in dangerous situations. Most intelligence officers will be trained in self-defense and the use of deadly weapons. Analysts will have to face frightening and dangerous situations and maintain a calm presence of mind. Analysts will have to think under pressure and be able to find solutions to problems efficiently and under duress. Intelligence analysts must also be able to be deal with confidential information and the confidential nature of their job; discretion is an important part of their life.
Most agencies that employ intelligence analysts will require the applicants to pass a drug screening, have a clear criminal record and be able to operate a motor vehicle; and many don't allow their analysts to have body art or tattoos. Intelligence analysts will also need at least a bachelor's degree. Their undergraduate degree can be in many different areas, but the most common degrees for those looking for careers as intelligence analysts are in criminal justice, social science, or social studies. Many schools will even offer a degree in intelligence analysis, though this is not necessary for the job, Mercyhurst College, for instance, offers degrees in intelligence studies and Suny College of Computing and Information also offers degrees in information studies. Many colleges will also offer hands-on training and internships with local law enforcement agencies to gain experience.
There will also be an intensive on-site training after the hiring process is complete. This will depend on which department the analyst works for and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
The workplace will depend on the specific field the analyst chooses to enter. Some analysts will focus on the tactical element of the job; tactical intelligence analysts will spend a greater part of their time in the field working with local law enforcement agencies. They will often work as an intermediary between several groups to make sure that nothing is missed and to enhance communication.
Other intelligence analysts will focus on gathering and interpreting information and strategic planning. These groups will have to be able to gather information from unusual sources and be able to interpret that data efficiently. They will have to enhance existing databases, fulfil intelligence requests, and search for patterns within large swaths of data.
Analysts work all over their own country and in embassies and military bases across the globe. They may also be entrenched within an army to coordinate their intelligence programs and help to gather information. Intelligence analysts may also be sent on assignments far away from their homes and may have to spend a great deal of time on the road.