As an intelligence analyst, your primary responsibility is to safeguard the nation by analysing and interpreting intelligence information.
In this position, you will be tasked with defending the UK’s national security and economic interests while also thwarting major criminal activities like terrorism, cyber threats, and narcotics trade.
Your duties include gathering, scrutinising, evaluating, and making sense of classified intelligence. Intelligence analysts, often referred to as intelligence officers, are predominantly employed by the UK’s trio of intelligence and security agencies (GCHQ, MI5, and MI6), in addition to roles in the military and law enforcement agencies.
Intelligence analysts need to:
- Identify potential targets by using human intelligence and signals intelligence.
- Build intelligence pictures after collating and validating information.
- Evaluate the credibility of information and reliability of sources.
- Interpret intelligence data using a variety of analytical techniques.
- Liaise with cryptanalysts, linguists, and mathematicians.
- Create rapport with clients to gain an in-depth view of their intelligence requirements.
- Follow NDA rules and guidelines.
- Create formal reports, desk-level briefings and presentations for various bodies, including the Ministry of Defence, The Home Office, The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the HMRC and the National Crime Agency.
- The starting salary of an intelligence analyst is £30,000 – £35,000 per year, plus benefits.
- The average salary of an intelligence analyst is £37,245 per year, plus benefits.
- After progressing to higher grades, with 5-10 years’ service, salaries can increase to £40,000 – £45,000.
Intelligence analysts usually adhere to a standard 37-hour workweek, but there may be occasions, such as during high-pressure situations or crises, requiring extended hours.
Options for part-time employment, job sharing, and flexible work schedules are available in this role.
What to Expect
- Typical benefits include pension schemes, free access to sports facilities, and childcare arrangements.
- Availability of jobs is limited to the locations of the agency’s main offices. For GCHQ, that is Cheltenham, Yorkshire, and Cornwall, whereas MI5 and MI6 are based in London, aside from the regional MI5 offices in Northern Island.
- Intelligence analysts working for MI6 may spend considerable time working overseas after gaining experience in head offices.
- Intelligence analysts are unable to travel to several countries for leisure purposes.
- The male-to-female divide in the intelligence analyst workforce is evenly split.
- Many of the employers of intelligence analysts prohibit discussing work with friends and family. This rule is especially enforced by MI5 and MI6, which ask employees to only disclose details of employment to immediate family members.
British intelligence services are keen on attracting analysts from varied educational and ethnic backgrounds to effectively address the wide array of threats facing the UK, both domestically and internationally.
Graduates from any field of study are welcome to apply, although degree requirements differ across various agencies. Possessing skills in languages, IT, or technology could give you an edge, though the agencies also specifically recruit experts in languages and technology.
Eligibility requires British citizenship, and at least one of your parents must also be a British citizen, or you must show substantial ties to the UK. Additional nationality criteria are also in place.
You will need to have:
- A naturally enquiring mind.
- An excellent aptitude for analysis.
- Efficient problem-solving skills.
- Clear communication skills.
- The ability to work independently and as part of a team.
- Consistent attention to detail.
- The ability to create clear, concise, and easily legible reports.
- Prioritisation and organisational skills.
- Cultural sensitivity and empathy.
- A persuasive personality.
- Proficiency with IT applications or a willingness to learn how to use data analysis and collection tools.
- The ability to adapt to changing priorities and requirements.
- A tenacious nature and an innovative mind.
- The resilience required to work under pressure.
Prospective intelligence analysts without a degree but with substantial experience in intelligence-related roles, such as in the military, may be considered as attractive candidates. The agencies are also open to considering transfers from other Civil Service departments for those at the executive officer level or above.
To navigate the selection process successfully, you should be a capable candidate with a keen interest in national and international current events. A solid grasp of information and communication technologies is essential, along with a commitment to stay current on ongoing advancements in these areas.
The selection journey is comprehensive and may take some time, encompassing various competency evaluations, telephone interviews, and participation in an assessment centre.
Given the high standards of the agencies and the intense competition for positions, discretion about your application is strongly advised. If you progress through the recruitment and selection phases, you must then clear ‘developed vetting security clearance’ to gain access to confidential intelligence.
This vetting process is thorough and will probe into your personal life, including aspects like relationships and financial status, and includes a drug test. The vetting can take anywhere from three to six months, and the overall duration from application to commencement of employment can extend up to nine months.
Your initial assignment as an intelligence analyst typically spans 18 months to three years, during which you’ll be entrusted with significant responsibilities. The agencies select individuals for specific roles based on the skills, abilities, and competencies showcased during the recruitment phase.
Following this initial period, you’ll have the chance to switch roles every two to three years; there is a strong emphasis on frequent job rotation. This could involve transitioning to similar operational roles or exploring different sectors within the organisation, such as finance, policy, personnel, team leadership and project management.
Given the nature of intelligence and security work, it’s feasible to stay in one role for an extended period. Nevertheless, you’re highly encouraged to change positions regularly. This approach is designed to keep you intellectually engaged, present new challenges, and broaden your experience in various fields. Such changes might include moving within or across teams to concentrate on different aspects, like a new geographical area or specialised analytical methods.
In the UK, intelligence analysts are primarily employed by three key agencies.
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) focuses on signals intelligence for national security and law enforcement and also operates as the National Cyber Security Centre.
The Security Service (MI5) leads in safeguarding against covert threats to national security, including terrorism and espionage, and offers security advice through the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure.
The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) gathers foreign intelligence related to national security, defence, and serious crime. These agencies report to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary.
Other government bodies like HM Revenue & Customs, the National Crime Agency, and the Ministry of Defence, including Defence Intelligence and the Intelligence Corps of the British Army, also employ intelligence analysts. UK police services hire criminal intelligence analysts to scrutinise crime statistics for pattern identification and resource allocation.
The MSc Information Technology with Data Analytics course at the UWS London campus is particularly well-suited for aspiring intelligence analysts. This course offers a comprehensive blend of core and specialised modules that are essential for the field of intelligence analysis.
The core modules include Business Data Communication and Networks, Database Design and Implementation for Business, Information Systems Analysis and Design, and a Masters Project. These foundational subjects provide a strong base for understanding the technical aspects of data management and communication, crucial for intelligence work.
Additionally, the course offers specialised pathway modules in Data Analysis and Visualisation and Data Mining and Business Intelligence. These areas are particularly relevant for intelligence analysts, as they involve skills in extracting and interpreting complex data, which is a key part of intelligence gathering and analysis.