We're building a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Security service personnel

Security Service personnel protect the UK against threats to national security.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You must be at least 18 and meet strict residency and nationality criteria. Due to the sensitive nature of the work, you’ll have background checks carried out through a vetting process.

You’ll need at least a 2:1 degree in a relevant subject for some roles, like:

  • intelligence analyst
  • internet and computer technology specialist
  • security exploitation officer
  • foreign language analyst
  • Russian intelligence analyst

Relevant degree subjects include:

  • history
  • languages
  • politics
  • economics
  • maths
  • law
You may not need a degree for some roles, like security officer or foreign language analyst, but you'll need relevant skills and experience.

For support jobs like business officer or administration assistant, you may need 5 GCSEs (A* to C) including English and maths.

You could get into some roles through an apprenticeship.

MI5 and Careers In British Intelligence have more information on working in the security service.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent observational skills
  • a flexible approach to duties
  • the ability to make decisions
  • excellent communication skills
  • balanced judgment

3. What you'll do

There are a variety of roles in the Security Service. These range from investigative and operational roles to support jobs like vehicle technician or security guard.

Depending on your role, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • collecting information on threats to national security
  • watching and reporting on suspects’ movements and actions
  • using specialist IT or electronics equipment to record and observe meetings, conversations or activities
  • reading emails and letters and checking social media
  • deciding if something poses a potential threat
In some roles you’ll work closely with the police, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £26,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000 or more

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work a shift rota which could include evenings and weekends. You may need to work extra hours during certain operations.

Most roles are based in London and the South East, but you may be employed elsewhere in the UK or around the world.

You may be expected to travel in the UK or overseas, depending on your role.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and a good performance record, you could move into management. You could also move to another station in the UK or apply for opportunities with SIS and GCHQ.

Related careers

You may be interested in:

Last updated: 14 December 2016