A career working for MI5 is like no other. If you are a graduate seeking opportunities after graduation then perhaps a career in the UK’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency is for you!
Serving her Majesty the Queen, a career after graduation for MI5 is rewarding, unique and a little different to a graduate program at EY. Why? Well the variety at MI5 is unlike anywhere else and the employees have significant autonomy to manage their own careers. Also, working for the same organisation as 007 does kinda look cool.
So if you want to follow in the footsteps of James Bond and become an MI5 officer, check out our career guide on all things MI5 to join the secret service. It’s time to unleash your inner Bond.
What is MI5?
MI5, properly known as the security/surveillance service, is the UK’s security intelligence agency. Although the “MI” stands for “Military Intelligence”, MI5 is a civilian agency without formal executive powers.
MI5 is principally concerned with countering threats to domestic security – in contrast to MI6, which is concerned with external security. Historically, MI5’s focus has been counter-espionage directed against foreign subversion: today, it is focused on counter-terrorism work and fighting organised and serious crime.
MI5 nowadays primarily works in liaison with other agencies, particularly the special branch of police forces. It’ officers do not have any powers of arrest or detention (so your graduate role won’t be complete 007).
Graduate roles within MI5
MI5 runs three distinct two year graduate training programmes – so finding the right one that best suits your career aspirations might be easier than you thought.
Speaking of finding the graduate program that best suits you, check out Magnet.me. Magnet.me is an online graduate platform that matches your profile to the internships, vacancies, graduate schemes and graduate jobs that fit you the best.
Intelligence Officer Development Programme (IODP)
That’s kind of a mouthful to say at Christmas dinner when your family ask “So what are you doing with yourself these days?”. For this graduate role you will need at least a 2.2 degree. If you complete this two year programme successfully, you can undertake the six week Foundation Investigation Training Course to prepare you for a move into one of MI5’s investigative sections. At this stage, your work could involve tasks such as investigating a new lead, analysing agent intelligence or liaising with police officers about when to make arrests (a desk-job-James-Bond if you will).
Intelligence and Data Analyst Development Programme (I&DADP)
Dreaming of a data driven graduate role (well, some people do), then check out the MI5’s I&DADP graduate role. During your time in the programme you will be trained to use advanced data analytical techniques and could work on uncovering and mapping communications networks, answering questions such as ‘Who is using this mobile phone?’ or ‘Where are they located?’. Kinda cool right? I mean cooler than your typical data entry graduate role, where your boss is asking for that spreadsheet no one cares about. Similar to the graduate programme above, you will also need to get a 2.2 degree or higher.
Technology Graduate Development Programme (TGDP)
You’ll be assigned to a business specialist area, ranging from IT services management to testing applications to support investigations and agent running (the kind of techy graduate roles MI5 offer). A passion for technology and IT and an average above a 2.2 degree or higher will be required when applying for this position.
What kind of graduate is MI5 looking for?
MI5 are looking for any university students demonstrating a good work ethic, a 2.2 degree and someone who is reliable. In terms of the personality factor, the organisation is looking for students who are confident communicators with a good eye for detail and the ability to trust their own judgement.
While the three distinctive programmes on offer require skills, the ability to maintain confidentiality is relevant to all three and any further role you apply for. If you are joining MI5, you’ll be dealing with highly sensitive information that could put lives at risk… so putting ‘reliable’ down on your CV here kind of has to be true.
Where are MI5 jobs based?
You probably guessed it, but MI5 jobs are based all over the United Kingdom. From Manchester to Cheltenham, from London to the back end of nowhere in Wales. MI5 positions are required for security reasons all over the UK. So if you are a student studying outside of London – in Manchester, Liverpool, Exeter, Bristol or Durham (to name but a few), then there are MI5 graduate roles year round in your area!
The application process for MI5
Do you have to be a British Citizen?
Yes. You must be a British citizen (born in the UK or naturalised) and have one British parent or parents with substantial ties to the UK. A little different from requirements at your more traditional graduate role… but then again it’s MI5!
When applying to MI5, you must be a resident of the UK for 9 of the last 10 years. The only exceptions made are for those HM Forces overseas, in official representatives of HM’s Government, study abroad or lived overseas with parents.
You must speak the Queen’s tongue… English. In addition to speaking English, graduate candidates that can speak more than one language are more likely to be appointed a role, as multiple languages are desired in the MI5 branch.
First, you will undergo what’s formally known as ‘Pre-screening’. During the application process, you will be asked to complete a few pre-screening questions to find out if you as an applicant meet the criteria. If you do, you will be asked to complete the application. If not, then back to watching Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnon saving her Majesty’s country on screen.
Then the application process begins. All applications submitted are considered on merit. It’s important to note that you are only allowed to start your application from within the UK.
The last step is the vetting process. This involves completing detailed questionnaires, discussing these with a vetting officer, and agreeing on references for an interview. It is important that during this process you provide full and accurate information, as any mishaps in information may lead to a delay in your application. This stage of the application process is the longest and candidates are usually asked to provide different pieces of information or complete certain tasks depending on the role they have applied for.
How can a career with MI5 advance my own career?
After your first 3-year-role, you can stick with investigative work or move into an operational, assessment or policy role. As your career develops, you could be involved in counter-terrorism, espionage, communication and recruitment work.
What will you earn at MI5 as a graduate?
Intelligence Officers start on a salary of £30,490, increasing to £32,963 after just one year. When you’ve completed FIT, your salary will rise again to £35,866.
Data Analysts earn between £30,490 and £32,963, while Tech Professionals earn between £33,398 and £36,100.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to now start researching into a career at MI5 and shape up to become the ideal candidate. It’s a case of using your most secret weapon – your brain – and thinking through a stonking application.
Interested in becoming the next James Bond? Want to kickstart a career at MI5 or defence? Then check out the graduate roles on Magnet.me today!!