Critical Skills

Over the next several years the United States Intelligence Community will develop a series of Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in National Security Studies. The CAE initiative will serve as an innovative strategy to develop critical IC skills and competencies. Objectives include the development of eligible talent that the IC can attract, recruit and hire. The strategy will help build a pipeline of competitive talent including women and racial/ethnic minorities with diverse cultural backgrounds, experience, skills, language proficiency, and expertise.The CAE Program Institutions will develop critical skills and competencies that focus on several of the following five (5) areas in addition to the general competencies required by all professionals.

Primary Critical Skill Sets/Competencies

Information Technology Specialists

  • Project managers
  • Computer specialists
  • Systems research
  • Software Applications
  • Software specialists
  • Electronic Data Optimization
  • Cyber Security

Political/Economic Specialists

  • Political
  • Foreign/Regional Area specialists Economics
  • Military specialists
  • Geospatial specialists
  • International business/finance/banking

Threat Specialists

  • Counterterrorism
  • Counterintelligence
  • Counternarcotics
  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Homeland Security Risk Analysis

Scientific/Technical Specialists

  • Scientists
  • Engineers
  • Nuclear specialists
  • Nonproliferation
  • Technical weapons
  • Geospatial specialists
  • Imagery specialists
  • Geodesists
  • Cartographers
  • Telecommunications
  • Information security
  • Forensics

Language Specialists

  • Middle Eastern
  • Far Eastern
  • World Languages

Specific General Competencies for Intelligence Professionals

  • Analysis
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communications (oral and written) Mathematical Reasoning
  • Project Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Consequence Management
  • Time Management
  • Research, developing rational conclusions and alternative solutions from ambiguity and limited data sets
  • Political Strategy
  • Team Building/Team Work
  • Futuristic Focus/Strategy
  • Establishing Priorities
  • Government(s) Operations
  • People Skills

Foreign Language Skills

The Foreign Language Executive Committee approved this list of suggested priority languages under the national Security Language Initiative on March 22, 2006. The list was compiled to meet critical needs in the intelligence community and for national competitiveness, based on skill shortage areas in key strategic areas for the U.S.
The list is in alphabetic order:


  • *Arabic
  • Baluchi
  • Bengali
  • *Chinese
  • Dari
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Japanese
  • Indonesian
  • *Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Pashtu
  • *Persian Farsi
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • *Russian
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Turkish
  • Uighur
  • Urdu
The asterisk * denotes languages taught through intensive summer programs by sister CSU institutions in southern California as part of a separate Consortium for the Strategic Language Initiative.



Note: A high degree of proficiency in a critical language can garner a signing bonus of some $35,000 by some of the intelligence agencies. Most will also pay extra for maintaining language proficiency in your career.