Data & network

Security service personnel

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

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £35,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 5% more Security service personnel jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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).

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'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


You could enter some roles through an intelligence analyst higher apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent qualifications, for a higher or a degree apprenticeship

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.

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

£18,000 to £35,000

Starter salary: £18,000 to £25,000

Experienced salary: £26,000 to £35,000

These figures are a guide.


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.

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.

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

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

You'll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age
  • meet strict residency and nationality criteria

Due to the sensitive nature of the work, you would have background checks carried out, which could include detailed questions about your life. You would also have to provide work and character references. You can get more information about the vetting process and eligibility from the Security Service MI5.

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