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Most of our graduates join our Intelligence Officer Development Programme (IODP) from a range of degree disciplines. Intelligence Officers run MI5’s investigations into the threats we face, and the role is challenging and rewarding. Our structured two year programme covers the first part of this career path and gives you hands on experience of working with intelligence and learning how we investigate, before taking you on to our Foundation Investigative Training Course.

You will be responsible early on for making critical judgements about threats to national security and the resources we use. You will work collaboratively with your team and those who collect intelligence. Every day will be different; you could be investigating a new lead, analysing agent intelligence, or liaising with senior police officers about when to make arrests.

Intelligence Officers move roles every three years, gaining a range of experience. MI5 is a supportive environment; a healthy work-life balance is encouraged because of the intensive nature of our work, and there is an emphasis on self-development. There are also opportunities to work outside of London throughout your career.

We require a range of people to be Intelligence Officers, therefore our only requirement is a 2:2 degree or equivalent full-time work experience. It is also possible to join as an Intelligence Officer at a higher level, subject to a strong performance in the recruitment process and suitable work experience.

Our graduate starting salaries are £30,817 rising to £33,316 after the first year. At the higher level starting salaries are £36,736.

Throughout our recruitment process we will also assess your skills against the requirements of all our Intelligence Development Programmes. This increases your chances of securing an exciting and rewarding career with MI5 and allows us to deploy the talented individuals that apply into the most suitable roles, maximising our capability to protect national security.



The programme

The IODP is a structured two year programme designed to teach you about MI5 investigations and give you the confidence to run them. New entrants either complete two postings of one year's duration, or one posting of two years. These initial roles are designed to develop key skills relevant to intelligence work.

After two years and subject to successful completion of performance reviews and assessments, Intelligence Officers are then eligible to undertake our six week Foundation Investigative Training Course (FIT). FIT will prepare you for a move into one of our investigative sections. On successful completion of the course, you will also be eligible to apply for promotion, subject to assessments. If successful, your salary will increase to £36,736.

You will then take up your first three year investigative or assessment role in MI5. After this, you will have the choice to remain in investigative work, or move into an operational, assessment or policy role. Throughout your career you will have the opportunity to move between these areas of work and apply for further promotion, subject to assessments.


Flowchart of progression through IODP


IODP postings (years one and two)

For the first two years new entrants fulfil roles that are designed to develop skills directly relevant to intelligence work, helping you learn how investigations work before you lead them. The following are a flavour of the types of roles you could be doing.

Digital Intelligence

Many new entrants join our Digital Intelligence Unit. Roles here will involve analysing and assessing information gained through interception, in order to further investigations. After initial training on the tools we use, you could be embedded in an investigative team, providing advice and analysis to help inform and direct investigations.


A role in our warrantry section will provide an excellent overview of MI5's investigations and operations. Warrants allow MI5 to intercept letters, emails and telephone calls, interfere with property or carry out intrusive surveillance. Here you will be involved in preparing warrants and ensuring they meet the appropriate legislative criteria, before being forwarded to the Home Secretary for approval.

Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI)

This is an inter-departmental organisation accountable to the Director General of MI5. A role in the CPNI would see you working with colleagues from across government, meeting and advising representatives from private sector companies that form part of the UK national infrastructure. In this role you might be collecting, analysing and assessing intelligence from a variety of sources, in order to produce reports for these external partners. Your responsibilities may also include discussing challenging issues such as security for high profile events, like the London Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

Investigative Challenge

We have developed a challenge to help you to assess your use of information and analytical skills. The investigative challenge has been designed to give you a greater understanding of whether you would enjoy and be well-suited to the MI5 Intelligence Officer role. Although this isn’t a required part of the recruitment process, we strongly encourage you to complete the task as it will help you to assess some of your skills in relation to the job.

The challenge should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete. You will be asked to view a number of written documents and answer some multiple choice questions relating to what you have read. The exercise is designed to broadly reflect some of the situations Intelligence Officers at MI5 are expected to deal with.

A day in the life of...

The Intelligence Officer

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