August 26, 2011

Intelligence Analysts

Part 3: A Rewarding Career

Stock photo.

In the decade since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI’s intelligence program has tripled in size, and our analysts work around the world—from the war zone in Afghanistan to the White House Situation Room—to help keep the country safe.

Behind the scenes, Bureau administrators are working hard to make the FBI a great career choice for intelligence professionals by defining career paths, offering advanced training, and establishing senior-level positions within the organization.

Tonya Ugoretz, the Bureau’s chief intelligence officer, manages our senior intelligence officers (SIOs), a group of highly skilled professionals whose job description did not exist 10 years ago. “Certainly 9/11 was part of the reason for creating the SIO corps,” Ugoretz said. “We needed an entity that transcended the stove pipes of specific program areas, and we wanted to provide analysts with senior positions they could aspire to. Developing this career ladder helps us increase the opportunities for analysts, and it deepens our bench analytically.”

Career Paths for Analysts

Since 9/11, the FBI has worked hard to establish career paths for intelligence analysts and senior positions they can aspire to.

After an intensive 10-week basic training course, intelligence analysts (IAs) specialize in one of three analytic areas—tactical, strategic, or collection/reporting. They may work at FBI Headquarters, in one of our 56 field offices, or internationally in one of our legal attaché offices.

As they gain experience and subject matter expertise, IAs can move up the career ladder to intermediate and advanced positions such as supervisory intelligence analysts and senior intelligence officers.

Currently, there are approximately a dozen SIOs whose expertise covers all FBI investigative programs, from counterterrorism and counterintelligence to criminal matters. Some SIOs are assigned geographic territories—where many criminal and national security investigations overlap—and are acknowledged experts on key areas around the world.

“SIOs look at threats and issues from a very broad perspective,” Ugoretz explained. “Our focus is more big-picture than day to day cases. SIOs regularly give advice and counsel to our senior leadership, so we are always looking at what we know and also what we don’t know.”

That means SIOs are required to understand current threats but are also responsible for “looking over the horizon to see what we should be anticipating,” Ugoretz added. “What do we know today? What should we be thinking about for the future? What are the risks and opportunities that present themselves? These are the issues tailor-made for senior intelligence officers.”

SIOs also serve as a bridge between the FBI and the wider intelligence community, making sure that the FBI’s perspective is factored into the entire intelligence community’s thinking—and making sure the intelligence community’s perspective is known to decision makers inside the Bureau. SIOs perform a similar liaison role with the academic community as well.

These senior analysts usually come from the ranks of career intelligence professionals and have significant subject matter expertise in their chosen field. “My section mainly focuses on intelligence for the Bureau’s executive decision-makers,” Ugoretz said. “Our role is to make sure leadership is aware of all the information and analysis we are generating Bureau-wide. The products we provide can ultimately factor into decisions made at the highest levels of government.”

The concept of senior intelligence officers is a relatively new one to the FBI, Ugoretz said. “So far, the more interaction our workforce has with SIOs, the more they see the value of the position. We look forward to building on that success.”