Professional and Analytical Skills

So, You Want to Be an Intelligence Analyst

An Insider's Perspective

Instructor: Chris Savos

Who Is This Course For?

This free course is for anyone who is interested in becoming an intelligence analyst.  Although it it primarily directed at those interested in applying to be an analyst at the CIA, the lessons taught are applicable to all analysts in government and the private sector. There’s very little useful, accurate, and honest information available on what being an intelligence analyst is really like; this course effectively and efficiently fills this gap. It also provides anyone interested in the business of intelligence an overview of what analysts do and how they play into the broader world of national security. 

Get the Inside Scoop

This course draws on the experiences of a former senior CIA officer who spent more than two decades as a member of the Agency’s analytic cadre. He’ll share insights, stories from his own career, and frank opinions about why even though being an Agency analyst was his dream job, it certainly isn’t for everyone.

What People Are Saying About This Course

“I thought the content was fascinating, presented in a logical order, and very easy to follow. Any questions I had about the job were answered…it was particularly valuable for me to have a comprehensive picture of both the good and the bad.”

“I’d consider myself someone who has put a lot of effort into learning about and applying to CIA, yet most of the information in this course was still new to me. I can only imagine how useful this course would be for anyone earlier in the process.”

What You'll Get

Video Content


Course Transcript


What You'll Learn

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How analysts fit into the overall mission of protecting the country’s national security
  • Common traits of all analysts and what’s required to succeed as one 
  • What analysts do from day to day and throughout a career
  • What types of products analysts write and how the process of research, writing, coordination, review, and dissemination works
  • The pros of being an analyst, those factors that lead most people to stay for a career
  • The cons of being an analyst, the sources of frustration most analysts face
  • What CIA recruiters tend to look for and how you can make yourself stand out as an exceptional applicant
  • How to avoid running afoul of the security clearance process
  • How the hiring process works

Course Content


  • What’s This Course About 
  • Who am I and Why Should You Listen to Me? 

An Overview of Analysis at the CIA

  • What Do Analysts Have in Common? 
  • What Different Types of Analysts Are There?  
  • What Do Analysts Do?  (Part 1: Finished Intelligence)
  • What Do Analysts Do?  (Part 2: Other Duties) 

The Good and the Bad of Being an Agency Analyst

  • Why Did I Love Being an Analyst?  
  • Why Might You Not Like It? (Part 1: the Job)  
  • Why Might You Not Like It? (Part 2: the Environment) 

How Can You Become an Agency Analyst?

  • What Does it Take to Get Hired?  
  • How Can You Improve Your Chances?  
  • How Do You Apply?  


  • Closing Thoughts 
  • Course Evaluation

Meet Your Instructor

Dr. Chris Savos

Dr. Chris Savos is dedicated to helping analysts everywhere build great careers.  In addition to developing courses for Proficiency1, he designs and delivers unique in-person leadership, analytic, and professional skills training programs to a range of clients in the Intelligence Community and the private sector.

Chris has extensive experience as an executive manager, leader, and analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he worked for 22 years and earned the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Agency’s highest award for career service.  Chris successfully led analytical units that covered sensitive issues in the Middle East and South and East Asia. He was also the CIA’s first Lead Talent Officer for the Directorate of Analysis and oversaw talent management and development programs for the Agency’s analytic workforce.

Chris knows what makes analytic products work, what causes them to fail, and how to teach analysts to improve their writing. He has reviewed thousands of products as a leader of analytic units at the CIA and many more as an analytic writing instructor since leaving the Agency.

Chris earned a BA in government from Dartmouth College and a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You can learn more about him at

Chris Savos

Try a sample lecture

What I Loved About Being a CIA Analyst

This lecture is part of the JTG Proficiency1 course So, You Want to Be an Intelligence Analyst: An Insider’s Perspective by Chris Savos.