What is Intelligence Analysis and Why is It So Important?


intelligence analysts
In these technology-driven times, the types of issues that challenge or threaten national security have shifted dramatically. Now more than ever, it’s critical to have a strong line of defense against cyberattacks —that starts with intelligence analysis. Intelligence analysis involves the collection of data and information from multiple sources on a potential enemy to predict their behavior and any possible threats they may pose. Analysts get information from experts in strategy, operations, and on-the-ground intelligence. That collective analysis helps prepare for attacks and extrapolate information from one enemy to defend against the next. Effective intelligence analysis keeps the nation safe from potential criminal and terrorist threats.

What Does an Intelligence Analyst Do?

Intelligence analysts have one of the most important jobs in the nation. They must gather data and information from myriad sources, and then examine and evaluate it for accuracy—and potential danger. They use that data and information to determine what threats may arise, from where, and from whom. Their goal is to anticipate and prevent serious criminal activities from enemies both within and outside of the U.S. The daily duties of an intelligence analyst may include:

  • Gather data and information from law enforcement databases, intelligence networks, and geographic information systems
  • Assess the validity of data and information and verify it against multiple sources
  • Create and give reports and presentations on gathered intelligence
  • Collaborate with other intelligence officers, government officials, and law enforcement
  • Study activities related to terrorism, gangs, money laundering and narcotics

Intelligence analysts also often interview witnesses and criminals, assess criminal suspects, evaluate records, and intercept communications.

Types of Intelligence Analysts

While some intelligence analysts are generalists, others specialize. Some analysts may focus on counterterrorism and some can focus on money laundering, trafficking, or gang-related activity. Here are other areas an analyst may specialize in:

  • Science and Technology: Includes the analysis of different technologies for enemy warfare or criminal capabilities as well as the evaluation of the weapons systems of foreign nations.
  • Military: Studies the military operations of foreign nations, including their ability to deploy and recruit troops. Military intelligence analysts may advise civilian policymakers and military leaders to help them better understand political and military trends, conflicts around the world, and potential security threats.
  • Economy: Studies the economy of foreign nations to examine and determine and how they fund their military operations.

What Skills Does an Intelligence Analyst Need?

As an intelligence analyst, you’ll need a variety of hard and soft skills to be successful at your job. For example, you’ll need to understand technology and be able to learn new scientific, analytical, and security software. You’ll also need to have knowledge of government and law, and of course, solid critical thinking skills. It’s also helpful to speak or read at least one foreign language. An intelligence analyst should also:

  • Work Well Under Pressure: Your job plays a key role in the protection of the nation’s security. You’ll need to think clearly and act quickly under stressful situations. Even when lives may be at stake, you’ll need to keep your composure.
  • Solve Puzzles: You’ll have a lot of information and data to sift through, so you’ll need to decide which pieces are true and useful, and which ones are not. This isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. Some information may seem meaningless at first but become important down the road.
  • Have Patience: You won’t crack the code overnight. It can take weeks, months, or even longer to gather and evaluate all the data and information you’ll need.


To become an effective and valued intelligence analyst, you’ll need to learn about the field, technologies, strategies, and more. You will need an education. The Online B.S. in Intelligence Management from NAU’s Henley-Putnam School of Strategic Security will teach you all about intelligence analysis, along with critical skills you will need for the protection management field. We also offer a variety of strategic security certificates. And if you’re a Veteran or active member of the Military, you may be entitled to additional military benefits. Take your military knowledge and start on a civilian career to protect America from all enemies, foreign and domestic, today.


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NAU students receiving transfer or experiential learning credit
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