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National Security Community
Celebrates
Social Mobility Awareness Day

Catherine Holmes and Naomi Davey, co-NSC Social Mobility Champions, write about the National Security Community and their work to ensure the community represents the country.

June 13 2024 is Social Mobility Awareness Day and we wanted to raise awareness of career opportunities in the National Security Community (NSC). We are the social mobility champions for the NSC and, together with a network of champions for race, gender, LGBT+, and disability, we work to ensure our community represents the country we serve. Only by achieving this will we best serve our country.

Working in the National Security Community might sound like something from the movies; spying, intelligence-gathering and risking life and limb, but the reality for most is far removed from this.

Careers in National Security are part of the Civil Service, which means you would be working for the Government.

There are many departments in the NSC from the dedicated departments like MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6, and GCHQ, to the Department for Business and Trade, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

There are also coordinating departments like the Attorney General’s office, and Cabinet Office.

Careers in National Security are part of the Civil Service, which means you would be working for the Government. There are many departments in the NSC from the dedicated departments like MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6, and GCHQ, to the Department for Business and Trade, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.There are also coordinating departments like the Attorney General’s office, and Cabinet Office.

There’s not just one National Security career pathway. Instead, there are many different roles, each requiring a different set of skills. For example, you could join the community as a lawyer, project manager, digital communicator, software engineer, statistician or business analyst. As there is a diverse range of roles there are many routes into the community. To read more about opportunities with the three intelligence collection agencies, see their recruitment sites at MI5, SIS and GCHQ.

Roles are based in the UK, but some may require international travel especially if you’re working with other countries or embassies. Some roles involve being posted abroad (from one month to several years), living and working in another country.

We recruit people from all backgrounds, course-types and education levels, from school leavers to university graduates.  

Flexible working is available throughout the national security community and alternative working patterns like compressed hours, part-time, and jobsharing are very much part of our DNA. Whilst some roles require working from an office, our offices are found throughout the UK.

Hear from members of the National Security Community

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Omar works at the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), or MI6, as a Staff Officer to a Director after working in local government.

“I joined the Secret Intelligence Service after completing a Level 3 Business Admin apprenticeship in local government. Applying to SIS through the website was straightforward and easy to do, if not a little daunting! I opted for the generalist entry-level route to become a business support officer as this seemed closest to my previous role (and as I didn’t have a university degree). Once in SIS, I was given the opportunity to work within a variety of interesting areas including tradecraft and hostile state activity, before I chose to move to the world of Strategy and Communications where I have since decided to specialise.

My experience before joining, and the support and varied opportunities that the organisation offers, have allowed me to progress up the grades quite quickly and find an area that I am truly passionate about. Not only that, I get to spend my days helping to shape the organisation of the future.”

Emma works in liaison and engagement and joined MI5 after working in retail management.

“I left school at 16 and went straight into retail. I started out on the shop floor and worked my way up to managing the store. I knew very little about MI5 before I applied. I thought someone like me, with only GCSEs and retail under my belt, had no chance of making it into the building. I didn’t realise the recruitment process focused more on my skills and how I’d gained them. If I’d known, I would have applied sooner. I wanted to feel like I was contributing to wider society. A friend suggested the police and when I searched for them online MI5 was included in the results. I gave it a shot and here I am!

I’m part of our international team so I get to work with other intelligence agencies from all across the globe. As my career progresses, I hope one day I’ll be able to travel and meet some of them in person.”

As you can see, our work is interesting, rewarding and wide-ranging. It means you can play an important part in protecting people, communications, and the country. The drive to stay one step ahead in protecting our country from harm is what unites applicants to the NSC. 

We work to serve the public and make a real difference in terms of protecting our communities. The satisfaction you get from knowing what you did today directly contributed to keeping our people safe is irreplaceable.   

Please check out the departments we’ve mentioned for available positions.

Many fascinating opportunities await.