A growing criminal justice specialty is intelligence analysis. Professional intelligence analysts study data to predict future criminal activity. They may focus on organized crime, gangs, terrorism or national security threats. The path to an intelligence analyst career can start with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of intelligence analysts is expected to see strong growth in coming years. Job growth will occur as emphasis on crime prevention and national security increases. Competition for federal and state government jobs in this field will be strong. The best opportunities often go to bilingual job candidates with military experience or college education in the field of criminal justice or police science.
The typical work day of an intelligence analyst may include a variety of duties. These professionals often gather criminal activity data through confidential sources and direct observation, as well as public records and communications searches. Plotting criminal activity and linking suspects to organized crime groups or events is an important aspect of this profession, allowing intelligence analysts to make accurate predictions of future gang, organized crime or terrorist activity.
Intelligence analysts use information from a variety of resources – such as databases, aerial photographs and radar equipment – to establish criminal profiles and identify members of criminal organizations. They often operate cameras, radios, geographic information systems (GIS) mapping and other surveillance equipment to track communication and document criminal activities.
In the military, intelligence analysts may serve as an advisor on a team of Department of Defense analysts. They are often responsible for writing reports and creating analytical techniques to clearly communicate data in a usable form.
In police departments, intelligence analysts may work with police officers. They do not typically visit crime scenes or study physical evidence, but instead work with computers and specialized software programs.
Depending on the employer, intelligence analysts may divide their work days between an office and the field. A 40-hour work week is normal for this occupation, but overtime may be required.
BLS findings showed that intelligence analysts earned a median annual income of $62,110 as of May 2009, while national data on PayScale.com indicated that the yearly salary of intelligence analysts ranged between $50,334 and $85,757 in October 2010. Recent bachelor’s degree graduates will generally start out toward the lower end of the range. Intelligence analysts with extensive experience and specialized education typically earn the top salaries.
Most intelligence analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology or criminal justice. Many employers provide on-the-job training to new recruits, although some prefer to hire candidates with relevant experience.
An intelligence analyst career can begin with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Coursework typically includes substantive criminal law, research methods in criminal justice, homeland security and terrorism, and criminal justice ethics.
Employers can be confident that graduates of a criminal justice program are able to:
If you are a disciplined and driven analytical thinker, with a desire to help prevent crime and protect the public, then an intelligence analyst career could be a great choice. Attributes like interpersonal skills, leadership ability, and strong written and verbal communication skills are also important in this field. If this sounds like a good fit for you, consider enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice program as the first step toward an exciting career as an intelligence analyst.