Starting a career in Intelligence can be daunting due to its secret nature. Finding information can be frustrating. I have outlined some important considerations to aid your decision-making.
Covert vs. Overt
Covert is secrecy. In some capacity, what you are doing or who you are, is kept secret. Covert also means your lifestyle will be different. You will have to maintain details of your deception, keep secrets from loved ones, and be vigilant regarding breaches in your cover. If you have a spouse and children, it will require them to help you keep up your cover.
Overt is openness. Although you may not be able to tell about the assignments you work on, you can tell whom you work for or what your job title is. These jobs do not generally cause any lifestyle changes.
Education vs. Experience
Which is more important? I had an arduous time getting hired for lack of experience. Most agencies will take experience over education.
However, education is equally important. This is especially the case if you have limited experience. My degrees were the sole reason for my acceptance to the Department of Homeland Security since my competition also lacked experience.
You should take every opportunity to gain both education and experience. While you are working on your education, apply to jobs and/or internships that gain you experience, even if they are unpaid. Whether education or experience is preferred will vary upon the agency and who your competition is for that specific job.
Strategic vs. Operational
Strategic is the over-arching intelligence. It describes trends, makes predictions, and looks at the over all big picture. I was being strategic when I looked at methamphetamine trends for the state of Kentucky.
Operational is down in the weeds. These people are generally gathering the intelligence. I was being operational when I was aiding officers on a methamphetamine case.
Home vs. Abroad
This decision will affect your opportunities. Jobs within the States are generally going to be desk jobs or with a domestic law enforcement agency.
If you are not averse to traveling abroad, the field is wide open. Remember your family in this decision, as they will be affected as well. They may have to travel with you or you may be traveling frequently without them knowing where you are.
Government vs. Civilian
Government can include federal, state and local. Every state has intelligence positions, just as the federal government does.
Civilian jobs are mostly with defense contractors. The important thing here is that the benefits are significantly different, so research them well, and contracts can be cut easier than government jobs if there are budget issues.