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Intelligence Analyst

The facts

Job description

You'll use your analytical skills and state-of-the-art technology to provide vital intelligence support.



Pay after training


Joining age

17.5 - 35

Similar civilian jobs

  • Business analyst

Usual service

9 years


UK citizen since birth

Open to

male or female

Qualifications you need

4 GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/2 minimum or 4 SNEs at Grade 5 or equivalent, including English Language and Maths

Qualifications you can gain

RAF Apprenticeship, including City & Guilds functional skills, European Computer Driving Licence, and an ICT NVQ


Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the 10 years immediately preceding your application, but candidates with a minimum of 7 years may be considered.

The job

The RAF Intelligence Analyst Trade is made up of highly motivated, bright, flexible men and women who have the important responsibility of providing timely intelligence support to military forces deployed on operations around the world. Whether deployed or working from their home bases across the UK, Intelligence Analysts are well trained and highly skilled in several areas, or specialisations, including imagery analysis, signals intelligence and operational intelligence. The Intelligence Analyst plays a vital role in protecting the security of the UK, its National and International interests and our allies, by collecting, analysing and disseminating intelligence.

Intelligence is collected from multiple sources, including aerial and satellite imagery and foreign communications, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Intelligence analysts are required to collect, collate and evaluate the vast amount of information that is used in the production of useable, actionable intelligence reports and threat assessments. As an intelligence analyst, you could be employed in a Station Intelligence Cell assisting with the production of current operational intelligence reports and briefings for the Station Commander, or you could be assisting the Squadron Intelligence Officer on a frontline flying squadron, by providing tactical mission support to aircrew.

Today’s aircraft are equipped with reconnaissance and surveillance systems that produce imagery using electro-optical, radar and infrared sensors to provide Imagery Intelligence. In addition we also utilise Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) and satellite imaging sensors, to gather intelligence to support operations world-wide. As an Intelligence Analyst you could analyse these images and generate reports for the intelligence departments of National and NATO organisations. Working on high-tech systems, you could develop graphics and produce intelligence that will be used to help plan military operations, or you could carry out extensive background research to ensure that reports are as detailed and accurate as possible.

Additionally, you could be employed within Signals Intelligence, monitoring, collecting and analysing foreign communications signals, providing valuable information about actual or potential enemies and their strengths, weaknesses, movements and locations. Details of the day-to-day tasks are classified; however, the job involves intercepting non-voice communications and other electronic emissions using sophisticated systems. You could analyse electronic and complex signals or ensure that UK and allied communications are transmitted securely – minimising the intelligence gained by potential enemies.

For much of the time you will work alongside your counterparts in the Royal Navy, the British Army or our coalition partners, and you may get the opportunity to serve overseas in permanent posts in Cyprus, with NATO in Europe, in the United States or even Australia. Throughout your career it is likely that you will be detached overseas for anything from a few days to a few months to carry out your Intelligence duties to support live operations in the air or on the ground. The contribution made by Intelligence Analysts is vital to operational success and they will often be the person at the front, assisting the senior commander in making key decisions on aspects of a military operation.


As an Intelligence Analyst, you could specialise in:

  • imagery intelligence – working with state-of-the-art IT systems to analyse images and generate intelligence reports, or carrying out extensive background research for national and NATO intelligence organisations;
  • signals intelligence – monitoring, collecting and analysing foreign communication signals, or ensuring that UK and allied communications are transmitted securely; or
  • operational intelligence – drawing on many different forms of intelligence to produce current intelligence reports and briefings for station commanders or front-line fast-jet crews. 

I do this job

Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence Analyst

'Not knowing what you’re doing from one day to the next.'

What’s your favourite bit of the job?
Not knowing what you’re doing from one day to the next.

What’s the worst bit of your job?
The worst bit is all the rubbish jobs when you’re low ranks, like emptying the bins, cleaning the classroom…

What are the best and worst meals in the Mess?
Chips are the best, of course! Everyone loves chips! The worst is mashed potato, because it’s that horrible Smash stuff, not proper mashed potato.

What do you like to do on the weekends?
Stay on camp actually, because it’s about five and a half hours to travel up home, so I generally stay on camp.

If you weren’t an Intelligence Analyst, what other job in the RAF would you like to do?
Armourer. It’s an interesting job, just working with all the weapons and you have to learn every single little part of it.

What did you want to do when you were 16?
I wanted to be an astronomer.

Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence Analyst

'I’m usually the first to hear about breaking news from around the world before it’s even hit the media.

What’s your favourite bit of the job?
For me, it’s the fact I’m usually the first to hear about breaking news from around the world before it’s even hit the media. Just because I like to be the first to know what’s going on.

What’s the worst bit of your job?
You could be told at short notice that you have to deploy or do station guard duty. This can sometimes clash with personal/family commitments, and you just have to adapt in that situation.

What’s your favourite meal in the Mess and why?
I’ve opted to live out in private accommodation, but when I lived on camp I used to love Wednesday – gammon day. It would be freshly carved from a joint right in front of you and I would help myself to loads of apple sauce. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it!

If you could give a recruit one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take a decent iron to basic training as this will save you loads of time. I didn’t, so it used to take me twice as long.

What’s the best place you’ve ever been with the RAF and why?
It’s hard to pick just one; it’s a toss up between Las Vegas, Kuwait and, most recently, a football tour to Cyprus. Just purely for the sights I saw and the people I got to meet.

What are you going to do this afternoon?
Going to the gym for circuit training and hopefully finishing my report later today.

Intelligence Analyst

Gary Birney
Intelligence Analyst

‘The pressure can increase very quickly in a short space of time.’

My role

‘As an Intelligence Analyst, it’s my job to find out about threats before they become a danger so I can help prevent wars and prevent people dying.’

My day

‘I analyse routine radar emissions – the signals that are sent out by radar around the world. The kit we use is really high-tech so you can tell a lot about the signals and we watch out for anything unexpected. Much of the work we do is top secret, so you have to be very careful in this job.

‘We learn to use all kinds of advanced computer equipment during training, but you start out by getting your European Computer Driving Licence – the same qualification you can get as a civilian. I’ve also done an NVQ Level 2 in computing and computer systems.’

My experiences

‘The RAF stretches you all the time. Earlier this year I went climbing and canoeing in Scotland. I was nervous about canoeing in the fast-flowing water, but I got on with it, ended up in the river a few times and finished the day knowing that I could cope.’

My life

‘When you’ve been through something like that with the people you work with, they become much closer than colleagues in a civilian job. People always say it, but it’s true: in the RAF, you make friends for life.’

More stories and views:
Gary Birney


Recruit training

Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.

Specialist Training (Phase 2 Training)

The next step is a 15-week course in the fundamentals of intelligence at the Defence School of Intelligence at Chicksands in Bedfordshire.

The course is designed to train you as an Operational Intelligence (OPINT) analyst and gives you a good understanding of the sources of intelligence, such as imagery and communications, the techniques for processing intelligence and the skills to disseminate the intelligence effectively, either through written or graphical means or by delivering an intelligence briefing.

The course also covers the roles of UK intelligence organisations, such as GCHQ, and the RAF intelligence structure, as well as introducing you to the worlds of electronic warfare and electronic intelligence.

You will also learn about IT applications, research techniques, military mapping and you will consolidate your training by field deploying to put all your new skills into practice.

While undergoing Phase 2 training, you will also complete an RAF Apprenticeship that will allow you to gain civilian accredited qualifications.

On successful completion of the course, you will graduate as a Leading Aircraftman/woman (LAC) and be posted to your first tour of duty.

As soon as you have completed all elements of the RAF apprenticeship, you will be eligible to apply for Advancement in Incremental Pay.

Your first tour

For your first tour, you may be posted to an Intelligence Cell at an RAF Station, working in a team with other Intelligence Analysts; you will carry out background research, assist in the preparation of intelligence briefings, perform basic analysis and help produce intelligence reports for military operations. You could also be posted to a frontline Intelligence unit where you will be required to utilise hi-tech systems in support of more senior Intelligence Analysts acting in a tactical imagery intelligence role. Alternatively, you could be posted to a unit tasked with the collection and analysis of a variety of signals, ranging from complex communications data transmissions to sonar returns. During your first tour you will initially work under supervision until you gain experience and, at the majority of these locations, you may be required to work shifts.

Ongoing Development (Phase 3 Training)

As your career progresses, we will continue to train you in new skills.  In addition to management and leadership training there you will be selected for one of a number of Further Training (FT) courses in one of the specialist intelligence fields of Imagery (IMINT), Communications (COMINT) or Electronic Warfare (ELINT) after your first tour in OPINT.

There are two options for Intelligence Analysts who do not complete FT successfully: you could either transfer to another job in the RAF for which you have the necessary aptitude, if there is a vacancy available; or you could leave the RAF.

Your future

Career prospects

You will initially join the RAF for a period of 9 years. After a year, you will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if you pass a trade ability test.

Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection once you have successfully completed FT.

Established Int An tradesmen may later in their careers consider applying for commissioning as intelligence officers in the Intelligence Branch.

Transferable skills

The qualifications you can earn and experience you will gain are as valuable in the civilian world as they are in the RAF, which means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you will be well placed to find a job in a number of fields including telecommunications, analytical work, research, media, information technology and the Civil Service.

All Intelligence Analysts will be offered the opportunity to complete an RAF Apprenticeship which includes City & Guilds Functional Skills, European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) and an Information Computer Technology NVQ.

As you move up through the ranks you will gain a great deal of management and leadership experience which you will have the opportunity to develop into related civilian qualifications.

We will give you the confidence to succeed in whatever you choose to do. 

Apply now

Call us on

0845 605 5555

  • Mon-Fri8am to 8pm
  • Sat9am to 6pm
  • Sun10am to 4pm
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