Can you keep a secret? Fancy working in espionage, communication interception, or cryptanalysis? You could be providing early warnings about imminent emergency situations, engaged in crisis management, helping to plan military operations, protecting sensitive information, or working to influence the outcome of important events.
Or maybe you’d just like to be a small cog, providing support within the intelligence networks responsible for keeping Australia safe from military attacks, terrorism, and crime amongst other things. Either way, a position within the intelligence security industry could be for you.
What type of person would this job suit?
- You’ll need to be able to communicate with influence, (get your point across clearly, listen, understand and adapt to different audiences) and be a convincing negotiator
- Be resilient, have good self-awareness and committed to personal development
- Stay professional, quick thinking, and calm under pressure
- Have keen observational skills and be able to pay attention to, and remember factually, details
- Have integrity and courage to do the right thing, trustworthy and reliable
- Able to work independently but be co-operative with others and nurture professional relationships
Industries where you might find intelligence workers:
- Information Technology
- Cyber Security
- Military and Defence
Whilst there is no specific qualification you can do that will allow you automatic entry into the intelligence services, nobody is discounted. Some positions require specific skills, these may be proven through a qualification (like a degree), or through gaining the relevant work experience.
Entry to this industry is focused on personal qualities as much (or more than) your qualifications. There are multiple pathways from VET through to university degrees that make you to be eligible to apply for positions. There are also a rigorous vetting and testing systems in place.
Therefore having the best qualifications might not secure you a job, and those with the lowest level of qualifications shouldn’t be deterred from applying.
Note: To apply for any positions in these organisations you’ll need to be an Australian Citizen and successfully undergo the relevant testing.
The selection process may take 6-12 months from the date of your application to receiving an offer of employment.
There might be a range of selection phases. E.g.
- written application
- video questionnaire
- written test
- psychological testing
- participation in a face to face assessment
- security assessment
- medical assessment, including testing for prohibited substances.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is Australia’s domestic spy agency. They collect and assess intelligence on security threats which could harm Australians at home.
Their traineeships are for graduating Year 12 students, or those doing their first year of vocational education in IM or ICT courses. You’d be earning a starting salary of $58,330 per year. Once you complete your qualifications you could be eligible for promotion to Information Technology Employment with a salary of $82,281 plus 15.4% superannuation.
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) uses technology to gather and distribute signals secret intelligence (communications) about the capabilities, intentions and activities of individuals or organisations outside Australia, that could impact on Australia’s interests and the well-being of its citizens. Their mission statement is “Reveal Their Secrets – Protect Our Own”.
To be eligible to apply, you’ll need to be a Year 12 student completing or recently finished your Year 12 Certificate, or already studying at CIT or TAFE, or anyone with a passion for ICT who is looking for a new and exciting career. You’d be completing a Certificate IV or Diploma in a related field.
You’d be paid for your studies as well as your work.
The Australian Geo-Spatial Intelligence Organisation (AGO) gathers imagery and other “geospatial intelligence” to support Australia’s national interests.
Their civilian competency-based training program qualifies its candidates by providing workplace-based training while simultaneously completing a Certificate lV in Spatial Information Services.
You’d get paid to work and to study. With a starting salary of $59,237 per year (plus superannuation). Guaranteed employment in the Australian Public Service (APS) and a salary of $73,256 plus super on successful completion.
The Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) analyse of foreign developments and produce intelligence assessments for the Australian government. Information may relate to political, social and military developments overseas, and providing assessments of technological and scientific developments in other countries, e.g. new weapons systems.
There are opportunities for high-achieving graduates (must have attained a minimum of credit average) to use their degree in the fields of international relations, politics, history, economics, social sciences, language, science, engineering or mathematics.
The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) is the Australian version of the CIA, they’re focused on collecting secret intelligence from overseas. The source of their information is other people, which they obtain by recruiting a network of contacts who provide information to handlers.
The 12 month graduate program gives on-the-job experience and training in different roles. They’re looking for graduates from a range of disciplines from law, mathematics, to arts or accounting. Upon successful completion, you could be offered a position as a Reports Officer, Targeting Officer or Desk Officer.
University Degree + work experience
The Office of National Intelligence (ONI) is an independent government agency who gather information from all the other agencies, diplomatic reports, and open sources including news reports. They analyse the information and produce reports to advise the Prime Minister and other members of the National Security Committee.
You could be working as an analyst, monitoring developments in your assigned geographical area.
Or working in the Open Source Centre (OSC) collecting, interpreting and disseminating information relating to matters of political, strategic or economic significance to Australia.
A range of skills could make you highly sought after, for example if you are qualified to a high-level in linguistics, analysis, research and data analytic skills, and you’re a great team worker.
It’s worth noting that most intelligence positions at ONI require you to have a degree and at least a couple of years relevant work experience within another agency.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) work in nationally across Australia to collect and share criminal information and intelligence between all states, territories and Commonwealth law enforcement agencies. Their function is to improve the national ability to respond to crime impacting Australia.
The 12-month ACIC Graduate Program is designed to give you experience and exposure to several different areas within the ACIC and the broader Department of Home Affairs portfolio.
You’ll receive a starting salary of $65,469 per annum plus superannuation.
Explore careers in the intelligence industry
To get the gospel truth about career opportunities, you’ll need to refer to each organisation, they all vary.
You can find the careers pages of each organisation below:
- AFP The Australian Federal Police are engaged in Counter terrorism and national security. They have recruit training and graduate programs available.
- AUSTRAC – are an Australian Government agency that uses financial intelligence and regulation to disrupt money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crime.
- Home Affairs – The Australian Government Department of Home Affairs brings together Australia’s federal law enforcement, national and transport security, criminal justice, emergency management, multicultural affairs, settlement services and immigration and border-related functions, working together to keep Australia safe. They also have a graduate program.
You could also check out the opportunities available within the Australian Defence Force. Lots of intelligence specialists get their qualifications, training and work experience with the ADF and are then able to transfer across to other organisations.