Intelligence officers collect and analyse information on people, places and events that may be a threat to businesses or national and international security.
New intelligence officers usually earn
$42K-$50K per year
Intelligence officers with more than two years' experience usually earn
$50K-$118K per year
Source: NZ Defence Force and NZ Police, 2018.
Pay for intelligence officers varies depending on where they work and their level of responsibility.
- New intelligence officers usually earn between minimum wage and $50,000 a year.
- Intelligence officers with more than two years' experience can earn between $50,000 and $118,000.
- Senior intelligence officers may earn more than $118,000.
New Zealand Defence Force pay
- Intelligence officers in training usually earn minimum wage.
- Experienced intelligence officers usually earn between $47,000 and $112,000 a year, depending on rank.
Defence intelligence officers may receive food and accommodation allowances and free medical and dental care.
New Zealand Police pay
- Intelligence analysts (police intelligence officers) in training usually earn between $44,000 and $49,000 a year.
- Experienced intelligent analysts can earn between $56,000 and $88,000.
Police intelligence analysts may receive allowances for items such as travel, food and clothing, extra duties, overtime and insurances.
Sources: New Zealand Defence Force, 2018; and New Zealand Police, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Intelligence officers may do some or all of the following:
- collect, analyse, decode and assess information that may be a threat to business, national and international security
- analyse data and make predictions
- assess data to find criminal behaviour or solve crimes
- analyse images and create maps
- assess people for employment and entrance to New Zealand
- co-operate with agencies nationally and internationally to gather information about potential threats
- manage investigations into specific threats
- monitor people and events
- provide reports to government and provide advice on how to manage threats
- protect information and intelligence.
Skills and knowledge
Intelligence officers need to have:
- knowledge of national and international politics
- knowledge of research methods
- knowledge of relevant legislation
- strong analytical skills, with the ability to see patterns in information
- good relationship building skills
- skill in observation and problem solving
- good time management.
- usually work regular business hours, but may sometimes work long or irregular hours
- may train at Defence Force bases in New Zealand and overseas
- may have to work in dangerous situations on deployment
- may spend long periods away from home on overseas assignments.
What's the job really like?
Intelligence operator video
Find out about life as an intelligence operator in the NZ Army - 2.16 mins. (Video courtesy of NZ Defence).
It's almost like you're conducting an investigation. If you're a police officer for example you have to go through and look at all the information you have and see whether you can identify any links or something that the commander can use to base his decisions off.
And it can be really really rewarding when you do make the connection when you figure something out – when you give them a piece of information and it's the last piece to the puzzle that they've been searching for.
The work that you do and the information you collect and analyse is hugely important because without you being there and collecting the information and giving the commanders something to base their decisions off, then basically operations can't happen.
So you're an extremely integral part of that decision-making process and of driving operations.
A big misconception about intelligence is that we all stay inside our little cubicles and stare at computer screens all day long. Well yes, that is an aspect of our job. We're also out on the ground quite a lot.
On deployments as an intelligence operator you'll be out there with the patrols on the ground gathering information in real time, you'll be the patrol commander's right-hand man. Now everything that the patrol does you'll be there doing it with them.
To become an intelligence officer you usually need to have a tertiary qualification and:
- be a New Zealand citizen
- hold a current, full New Zealand driver’s licence
- have a clean police record
- pass a full psychological assessment
- gain high-level security clearance.
Training for intelligence officer roles is usually done on the job.
Specific entry requirements for New Zealand Defence Force
Intelligence officers in the NZ Defence Force have additional specific entry requirements depending on their role.
- Intelligence operators in the NZ Army must be at least 18 years of age and have NCEA Level 2.
- Intelligence officers in the NZ Air Force must be at least 19 years of age and have a Bachelor's degree.
- Intelligence specialists in the NZ Air Force must be at least 17 years and 8 months of age and have NCEA Level 2 with 12 credits in science.
Intelligence officers do basic training and specialist training at NZ Defence Force bases.
- Defence careers website - information on becoming an intelligence operator
- Defence careers website - information on becoming an intelligence officer
- Defence careers website - information on becoming an intelligence specialist
Specific entry requirements for New Zealand Police
Intelligence analysts in the NZ Police also need to:
- have a tertiary qualification or equivalent life experience
- pass problem-solving tests
- provide a sample of analytical written work.
NZ Police prefer applicants to hold the New Zealand Diploma in Intelligence Analysis or equivalent. Applicants without this qualification can complete it on the job as a trainee intelligence officer.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training for most intelligence officers. Useful subjects include maths, digital technologies, English, geography, history and classical studies, languages and science.
NCEA Level 2 is required to train as an intelligence operator or intelligence specialist in the NZ Defence Force. Intelligence specialists need 12 credits in NCEA Level 2 science.
Intelligence officers need to be:
- persuasive and analytical
- mature, with good judgement and initiative
- flexible and resilient
- calm in stressful situations
- careful and accurate, with an eye for detail
- good at communicating with a wide range of people
- good problem solvers
- patient and discreet.
Useful experience for intelligence officers includes:
- research and analysing data experience
- information technology experience
- work for NZ Defence Force or NZ Police
- language studies.
Intelligence officers need to have good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) and have normal colour vision.
Find out more about training
- Constabulary Recruitment
- 0800 639 2677 - www.newcops.co.nz
- New Zealand Defence Force
- 0800 136 723 - www.defencecareers.mil.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Job vacancies increasing for intelligence officers
Demand for intelligence officers is good and continuing to grow due to the need to protect cyber security and trade, and strengthen international relations.
According to the Census, 537 intelligence officers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Demand best for intelligence officers with IT expertise
Demand for intelligence officers with expertise in information technology (IT) is continuing to grow due to advances in technology generating more cyber security threats.
Regular intakes in NZ Defence Force and NZ Police
The NZ Defence Force and NZ Police each hold one or more intakes a year for intelligence officers.
Applicants can register on the NZ Defence Force and NZ Police websites for these intakes.
Five key employers of intelligence officers
The five key employers of intelligence officers are:
- New Zealand Defence Force
- New Zealand Police
- Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)
- New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS)
- Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Intelligence officers may also work for other government departments and private organisations, such as banks.
- Beyond Ordinary Careers website, accessed August 2018, (www.nzsis.govt.nz).
- Defence Careers website, accessed August 2018, (www.defencecareers.mil.nz).
- Government Communications Security Bureau, 'Annual Report 2017', 2018, (www.gcsb.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Job Online Quarterly Report - June 2018', 2018, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupation Outlook - Analysts', accessed 2018, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- New Zealand Institute of Intelligence Professionals website, accessed August 2018, (www.nziip.org.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Stuff, 'Now's your Chance to be a Spy - NZ SIS is Hiring', 27 April 2018, (www.stuff.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Intelligence officers may move into management roles or military officer ranks.
Intelligence officers may specialise in:
- cryptanalysis (decoding)
- cryptomathematics (decoding numbers)
- liaison (building and managing relationships)
- vetting (approval of people for events, visits and employment)
- screening (checking people or information)
- surveillance (monitoring people, events or information).
NZ Defence Force specialisations
Intelligence officers in the NZ Defence Force can specialise in a number of roles, including:
- Electronic Warfare Specialist
- Electronic warfare specialists are responsible for any aircraft protection systems and equipment fitted to aircraft belonging to the NZ Air Force.
- Geospatial Specialist
- Geospatial specialists produce maps and charts to support the functions of the NZ Air Force.
- Image Analyst
- Image analysts use and analyse the output of video, radar, infrared and other imagery to support the functions of the NZ Air Force.
- Intelligence Operator
- Intelligence operators decode and analyse information and make predictions to support the functions of the NZ Army.
Last updated 5 May 2021