Criminal Intelligence Analyst

When you hear the terms intelligence analyst or intel, your mind might automatically think of some top secret military operation taking place in an undisclosed locale overseas. In reality, intelligence has also been a law enforcement and criminal justice tool for decades. Since 9/11, the role of the criminal intelligence analyst has grown in significant importance among national, state and local agencies. It has proved to be especially effective in organized crime scenarios, such as gang activity, theft rings and terrorism.

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What is a Criminal Intelligence Analyst?

The role of the criminal intelligence analyst is to help predict and prevent crimes and also monitor ongoing criminal activity. Analysts do this by gathering information from surveillance, databases, technology (such as GIS geographic information systems), informants, financial records, telephone and other communication records and public information sources. A criminal intelligence analyst takes all of this information, evaluates it, verifies its accuracy and transforms it into viable intelligence to assist law enforcement officers in preventing crime, making arrests or gathering essential evidence for prosecution down the road.

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Law enforcement intelligence analysts must be capable of finding relationships among the plethora of information they are analyzing; at the same time they must understand the criminal mind to create suspect profiles and also discover connections between several suspects. Thus criminal intelligence analysts must have logical, technical, investigative and criminology skills. Intelligence analysts assist with a variety of cases, included those related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, auto theft rings, narcotics, gangs, money laundering, child pornography rings and other organized crimes, as well as homicides, sexual assaults, burglaries, etc.

Educational/Training Requirements

Generally, to become an intelligence analyst you need to at least complete a certificate in Criminal Intelligence Analysis. This type of program will provide you with essential theoretical and practical courses, plus a work placement opportunity to gain direct experience in a crime intelligence unit. Several colleges and universities offer such programs online.

Most criminal intelligence analyst certificate programs are geared towards those who have previous law enforcement or criminal justice experience, so it is extremely helpful to complete a Bachelor’s beforehand, such as a criminal justice, statistics, criminology or computer forensics degree.

Certification – IALEIA – International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts

The IALEIA (International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts) offers certification that is recognized within the United States and on a global scale. Some local, state and national agencies prefer their criminal intelligence analysts to hold this credential, while others require it. Through the IAILEIA, you can be classified as a basic level intelligence analyst (if you are just starting your career), a certified intelligence analyst (after five years of professional experience) and a lifetime certified intelligence analyst. To meet these levels of qualifications, you must complete relevant professional development training. The IALEIA offers such training in criminal intelligence. For example, its FIAT (The Foundations of Intelligence Analysis Training) is held in such high regard that when the Department of Homeland Security required that its new analysts receive such specific training in 2005, it selected FIAT as one of two educational options.

Career Options

Various local, state and national agencies and organizations hire criminal intelligence analysts. Intel analyst jobs may be offered at:

  • Local police departments
  • State police departments
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
  • US Secret Service Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Private companies and firms

Note that each federal agency has satellite or division offices across the country.

There is also a growing emphasis on intelligence-led policing, particularly among local police department and state law enforcement departments, suggesting that the demand for criminal intelligence analysts will continue to grow at these types of agencies. (Intelligence-led policing refers to collaboration between community policing and criminal intelligence analysis).

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Intelligence Analyst Salary & Job Outlook

Although it’s tricky to determine the exact growth projections for criminal intelligence analysts (the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer such specific information as of yet) the opportunities for this profession appear to be on the rise to correlate with the growing value on intelligence analysis as a law enforcement tool. For example, in 2008, Director Robert S. Mueller III reported that the FBI had double the amount of criminal intelligence analysts from its number in 2001. According to Career Builder’s Where the Jobs Are (2007) the security, protection, compliance and enforcement sector (which includes intelligence analysts) had the largest projection for employment opportunities. The same report mentioned that the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury as prioritizing future jobs in intelligence analysis.

In 2009, CNN Money ranked the position of Intelligence Analyst as 9th out of the 50 top jobs in America based on its earnings and growth potential. At this time, CNN stated that the median salary for experienced intelligence analysts was $82,500 (with the potential to earn up to $115,000) and that the projected job growth for these positions was between 2006 and 2016 was 15%.

Did You Know?

2011, the New Orleans Field Division/Field Intelligence Group of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, In Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was honored with an intelligence analyst award granted by the IALEIA. Analysts from the division provided intelligence leading to the arrest of defendants found guilty for detonating an explosive device; they were indicted for possessing 98 grenades (unregistered) and for weapons of mass destruction charges. The criminal intelligence analysts were responsible for coming up with almost 600 leads and writing 117 reports. The IALEIA characterized their tactics as a “classic example of intelligence led-policing”.