A career at MI5 is like no other. Not only is it rewarding and unique but the variety here is like nowhere else. Depending on your job on joining you will find yourself either classed as a specialist or a generalist and belong to a specific capability area. Staff are given significant autonomy to manage their own careers and typically move jobs every two to three years with the option to move across areas. Therefore it is not unusual for someone to have worked in counter-terrorism, recruitment, counter-espionage and corporate communications in the first few years of their career.
This variety means that most people stay at MI5 as they are able to fulfil all their career ambitions here and apply for promotion whilst doing so. Your career options can be further enhanced by opportunities to work in regional stations across the UK and secondment opportunities to our partner agencies SIS and GCHQ.
Whatever your career path, training and development are at the heart of what MI5 does, and you’ll have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills. As well as making sure you’re able to do your job effectively, as an Investors in People accredited employer, we’re committed to providing you with access to training and the opportunity for continuous development throughout your career.
We encourage our staff to take responsibility for their careers and personal development, and you’ll work with your manager to make the most of your potential and the wide range of opportunities available.
Our internal academy offers a wide range of training from corporate training including IT, communication skills, leadership and management to more specialist and technical training including investigative and analytical techniques and covert operational training.
Developing our managers is crucial and we run foundation management and leadership programmes to give staff the skills they need to succeed in these areas.
Broader development opportunities include lunchtime talks from guest speakers, language training facilities, sponsorship for further education and development days which you can use to study or to get involved in activities away from the workplace that help you to do your job.
A common misconception is that there is no work-life balance at MI5, due to the nature of what we do. It is true that there may occasionally be times when you need to work longer hours than usual, such as the busy points of an investigation. But it’s also true that you’re not able to take your work home with you, so when you leave the office you really are leaving your work behind you.
Where operations allow, we also offer flexible working to help you balance your personal and family commitments with your professional life.
We’re committed to rewarding the people who work for us, and expressing our appreciation of their efforts. In fact, it is an important part of our success. Each year your contribution will be recognised through our performance-related appraisal system. We also have a merit award system to recognise special contributions by individuals or teams.
Other benefits include:
We are often asked questions about our work and how we operate. See below for some of our most commonly asked questions about working at MI5.
We currently employ about 4,000 people. More than 40% of staff are women, just over half are under 40 years old, 8% are from black or ethnic minority backgrounds and 3% have a disability. Around 330 staff currently work in MI5 on secondment or attachment from other departments and agencies.
MI5 deals with very sensitive information. Lives may be put at risk if sensitive information is disclosed carelessly. This makes it vital to manage information properly and release it only when absolutely necessary.
Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 prohibits our current and former staff from making unauthorised disclosures of information concerning security or intelligence that they acquired while working for MI5. We can only pass on information as is necessary for purposes of protecting national security.
The Official Secrets Act does not prohibit disclosures of unimportant matters. However, we advise our staff to be aware of the sensitivities and potential risks when discussing their involvement with or knowledge of MI5.
There’s no such thing as "a typical MI5 officer".
We seek to recruit from all areas of the UK and all sections of society. Our staff members come from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, reflecting the diversity of the communities in the UK that we serve.
MI5 is an equal opportunities employer. 41% of our staff are women and more than half of our staff are under the age of 40. An increasing number of staff members (currently around 8%) are from black or ethnic minority backgrounds.
See Careers for more information about our current vacancies and working at MI5.
Yes. MI5 takes the welfare of its staff very seriously.
We work to ensure that our staff have a healthy work/life balance with reasonable working hours. Most roles provide a wide range of flexible working arrangements, including flexi-time, job-sharing and compressed hours.
We offer generous maternity and paternity leave. There is a strong support network within MI5 to provide advice and assistance for our staff.
For more information, please see Careers.
If you’ve started an online application that you want to re-visit, see Access my application.