List of CIA Myths

Fact or fiction?

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  • Statement #1: An average day as a CIA employee involves a car chase in a foreign city.
    False. Narrow alleyways and bugs in high heel shoes are far more common on TV than they are at the CIA. Supporting a worldwide intelligence operation is glamorous though – you’re collecting intelligence on the cutting edge of global change, after all.
  • Statement #2: You can use social media if you work for the CIA.
    The truth is, CIA employees can use social media. We just have some guidelines to protect the men and women who serve our country. There can be plenty of friending and following and liking in your future (just not during the work day).
  • Statement #3: Hardly anyone ever makes it through the CIA background check.
    Definitely not true. There are specific qualifications CIA candidates must meet, but cutting class once or twice your senior year won’t DQ you from a career protecting your nation. We ensure that only the most qualified and committed candidates are selected, but those decisions are based on a thorough and stringent application process. Not on a couple parking tickets.
  • Statement #4: You can work at the CIA if you have a tattoo.
    True. CIA employees are as diverse as the nation we protect. Including people with tattoos.
  • Statement #5: You can only work at the CIA if your family’s been in the US for generations.
    False. US citizenship is US citizenship, no matter how long you’ve had it. No matter if your parents are citizens or if your grandparents still live overseas. We’re interested in your abilities, not your tenure.
  • Statement #6: The CIA only hires Ivy League students.
    False. The brilliant men and women of CIA come from all sorts of backgrounds – including community colleges, state schools and work experience. How you got the skills we need doesn’t matter. Using them to protect our nation does.
  • Statement #7: The CIA won’t hire anyone who has ever illegally downloaded copyright protected information.
    This one's true and false. We understand that people have all made choices in the past that they don’t make anymore. And as our laws have grown to prevent illegal downloading, so have our expectations of our employees. What we’re looking for is honesty and adherence to the law.
  • Statement #8: Once you start at the CIA, you’ll never see your family or friends again.
    False. The work we do may be secret, but your life doesn’t have to be. Most of our careers are at CIA headquarters, and include a wider range of occupations than any commercial enterprise. You’re welcome to talk to your mom as much or as little as you like.
  • Statement #9: Job Requirement #1: Super Powers.
    False. Believe it or not, you don’t have to know karate, or be able to withstand a jolt of electricity, or outrun a sports car to work at the CIA. You must, however, possess deep intellect, the ability to make good decisions and dedication to your nation.
  • Statement #10: You might have to spy on your family.
    False. Our work as America’s premier intelligence agency does involve collecting information from sources outside the United States, but we would never ask you to spy on a family member.
  • Statement #11: If you don’t speak a foreign language, don’t bother applying.
    False. Although the CIA values and seeks people with foreign language skills, that doesn’t mean it’s a requirement to obtain a job.
  • Statement #12: You’ll get to use lots of secret gadgets.
    Actually, there's a little truth to this one. Spy movies like to show off all kinds of high-tech gear, but real CIA Officers don’t necessarily use them. An analyst wouldn’t need a sneaky device to write a report. But our scientists and engineers do get to work on technology so advanced, it’s classified.