A Career in Security and Intelligence
In an increasingly globalised world, there’s a high demand for security analysts, intelligence officers, and law enforcement authorities with a significant level of training in security and terrorism issues.
This field is highly competitive, so it’s important to begin with a greater understanding of what a career in intelligence or counter-terrorism entails.
What is Security and Counter-Terrorism?
The ASIO Act defines “security” as the protection of Australia’s territorial and border integrity from serious threats, and the protection of Australia and its people from espionage, sabotage, politically motivated violence, the promotion of communal violence, attacks on Australia’s defence system, and acts of foreign interference.
Security and Counter-terrorism Intelligence is information compiled, analysed, and/or disseminated in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor illegal activity.
There are two basic roles in Security and Counter-terrorism – Operations and Intelligence.
Mostly Security and Counter-terrorism Operations are carried out by either the police or the military (the exception are perhaps the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Employment in Security and Counter-terrorism with the military or police forces is via standard employment in these branches – i.e. as a soldier or police officer. Special operations sections such as the SAS or with state police branches are from within these services. Direct employment in such roles is not normally available.
What is Intelligence and Analysis?
Intelligence gathering is undertaken to understand, assess and counter foreign or domestic entities. It includes human activities and electronic methods. Intelligence analysis refers to the activities used to analyse the available data and convert it into useful information. The Intelligence Community works for policymakers and military leaders.
Intelligence analysts work for a variety of organisations, most notably federal government agencies, but also state government (police)*. The tasks involved in this line of work entail the extensive research into and collection of information from many sources. Intelligence analysts then sort, target, and identify relevant data, which is reported to key officials.
Intelligence broadly comprises Intelligence Gathering and Intelligence Analysis (and Reporting)
Intelligence Officers (IOs):
The work may be dramatic sometimes, but most of the time, the day to day work and impact of analysis is routine and ordinary – the primary point of intelligence analysis is not just to defeat current threats, it is also to foresee, prepare for, and prevent future threats
Writing and Reporting
As Intelligence is a research and analysis job, part of your work will be to distil lots of information into an argument, and structure that argument so it is properly understood – to pass on information effectively, writing well is a must
Expertise in a Subject of Current Importance
There are going to be more jobs currently available in Islamic extremism than in Italian ethnography – it’s also likely to be beneficial if you have a skill that’s both applicable to a current threat and unusual in Australia, like high level language skills or cyber-security/warfare
If you want to be an intelligence analyst, try to focus your undergraduate curriculum on classes that require you to do individual research and analytical work (as opposed to exam-driven courses). The exact subject matter is less important. History, political, ethnography research even chemistry research all have potential interest to the Intelligence Community. If you can gather facts, assess their significance and communicate that assessment mean, you can be an intelligence analyst.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation – ASIO
A career as an Intelligence Officer with ASIO is unique and will challenge your intellect and ability to make sound judgments under pressure.
You will drive ASIO investigations and be responsible for the overt and covert collection of significant information relevant to national security.
Your interpersonal skills will be invaluable in maintaining regular contact with a variety of people, including members of the public who volunteer information. You will also work with technical means of collecting information.
Your analytical ability will allow you to assess information to produce security intelligence and provide regular written and verbal briefings and advice to a range of stakeholders across government.
Your resilience will be tested as you respond to fast moving challenges and solve complex problems in an environment where no two days are the same
Are You Eligible?
To be eligible for this diverse and interesting role you must:
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