All U.S. military service branches have an agency charged with investigating felony-level offenses affecting their branch. The Department of the Navy, for example, has the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS, to investigate felony offenses affecting the Navy and the Marine Corps. NCIS, though, does much more than just criminal investigations, as it is also involved in neutralizing foreign intelligence threats to the Department of the Navy. Personnel-wise, federal sworn law enforcement officers comprise the main cadre of NCIS personnel.
NCIS Main Mission
NCIS is predominantly a civilian agency, with more than 90 percent of all staff and 98 percent of all agents being civilian. NCIS works to protect the people, equipment, technology and infrastructure of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The main mission of NCIS is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist and foreign intelligence threats. Within the naval services, the NCIS has a presence ashore, at sea and in cyberspace.
Special Agent Careers
NCIS has about 2,300 personnel spread all around the globe. Criminal investigations are the foundation of almost everything that NCIS does, with NCIS special agents comprising about half its total personnel strength. NCIS special agents are sworn federal law enforcement personnel and work in a variety of specialties such as forensics, cyber crimes, threat assessments and economic crimes. All NCIS agents receive their initial training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia.
Cyber Specialist Careers
Cyber specialists are non-special agent personnel working within the NCIS. The service's cyber department plays a critical role within NCIS and it helps special agents to combat terrorism and to engage in counterintelligence against foreign threats. NCIS cyber specialists work in one of three roles; computer scientist, investigative computer specialist and cyber intelligence analyst. NCIS cyber specialists are highly trained in the computer sciences, including in forensic examination of computers and they frequently work closely with NCIS special agents.
Intelligence Specialist Careers
NCIS intelligence specialists are commonly referred to as analysts or "0132s," for their federal job series classification. NCIS intelligence specialists collect and assess intelligence from a variety of sources, including national databases and domestic and foreign media publications. Intelligence specialists within NCIS are subject matter or regional experts, prepare intelligence reports and brief senior Department of the Navy leadership on NCIS analyses. Additionally, NCIS intelligence analysts with graduate degrees and foreign language proficiency are eligible to serve as foreign area officers.
NCIS Job Qualifications
Generally, you must have at least a four-year college degree from an accredited institution to become an NCIS special agent, intelligence specialist or cyber specialist. NCIS special agent applicants also usually must be 37 years old or younger, though preference-eligible military veterans can be older. NCIS only brings in U.S.-born or naturalized citizens and all applicants undergo extensive background screening. Year 2013 starting salaries for NCIS special agents are comparable to the federal GS-7/13 pay scale, or $34,149 to $72,032 annually.
Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.