GIS Careers at the CIA, FBI and other Homeland Security Positions

GIS Careers at the CIA, FBI and other Homeland Security Positions

How important is GIS technology to U.S. security? According to a recent Homeland Security Today, GIS is the “backbone.”

Since 9/11, each division of Homeland Security has developed its own GIS teams.

The report said 77 Department of Homeland Security-funded and supported intelligence fusion centers collect, process, analyze and distribute information about potential terrorist threats to the U.S. GIS tools are the technology centerpiece of counter-terrorism and disaster response efforts, the magazine said.

“There are all types of data coming into the fusion centers today,” said Russ Johnson, Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at Esri. “From suspicious activity reports to law enforcement reports, fire reports, phone calls, electronic intercepts and imagery, GIS is beginning to play a really important role in being able to mine databases with common kinds of keywords.”

In fact, as soon as President George W. Bush signed an executive order on October 8, 2001, to create Homeland Security, GIS technology has been a top priority for protecting the United States. In a 2001 white paper, Esri wrote: “the urgent need to develop strategies and methodologies for information access on which we can base our preparedness for homeland security comes with some perspective. The GIS community has years of experience and data at its disposal. 
Many of us have worked in preparing for and responding to national emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. This experience now enables us to redefine planning and preparedness for the incurred risk of malicious attack. However, the ability to mitigate the effects of any emergency is drastically reduced by lack of forward planning.”

According to the Federal Geographic Data Committee, accurate geospatial information is critical for:

  • Facilities and operations susceptible to attack.
  • Critical infrastructure, including telecommunications; electrical power systems; gas and oil production, storage and distribution; banking and finance; water supply systems; emergency services.
  • Accurate employment data tied to specific locations.
  • Detailed and current “framework” data, including orthophotography, transportation, elevation, political boundaries, property ownership, hydrography and geodetic control.

What this means for an GIS master’s degree students are career opportunities. The CIA and FBI are two Homeland Security agencies that regularly look for GIS candidates.

Since 9/11, each division of Homeland Security has developed its own GIS teams. The Central Intelligence Agency may not publicly detail everything it does with GIS technology, but what is public is the fact it must provide quantitative analysis to enhance the country’s international relations and national security issues.

The CIA also regularly hires Cartographers with pay ranging from $42,861 to $92,000. To be considered for a CIA Cartographer position, one must know Esri ArcView GIS, Esri ArcGIS, Avenza MAPublisher, Intergraph GeoMedia Pro, Microsoft Office, Adobe software such as Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Flash and Acrobat.

GIS technology is also regularly used in other CIA positions. For more information, visit

In the past several years, the FBI has greatly increased its GIS presence and even requested mobile applications to track social medial. According to a 2008 Directions Magazine report, this all goes back to 2005, when the FBI depended on a limited means for sharing information with no coordinated efforts to manage the GIS initiatives. They later created the Domain Management Initiative, or iDomain, a Web-based mapping application based on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA)  Palanterra.

The combination of iDomain and a better understanding of how GIS can help the country has led to many GIS career opportunities within the FBI.

FBI GIS Engineer Qualifications

▪   Developing Geospatial applications and services using COTS

▪   ArcGIS, ArcSDE, ArcObjects

▪   Geospatial applications in C++ and JAVA

▪   Possess a Secret security clearance and be able to obtain a TS/SCI

For more information, visit