JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY CAN AGREE that a career with the Central Intelligence Agency sounds pretty exciting. The agency, more commonly known simply as the CIA, is the principal intelligence-gathering agency of the United States government. It is the largest and most diverse of the 17 agencies that make up the Intelligence Community, or IC, the cluster of organizations that gather and analyze classified intelligence for the federal government. The CIA is widely known for its human intelligence mission. Human intelligence, called HUMINT, is the process of gathering and analyzing intelligence from human sources. Those sources can be operatives collecting information for the agency, or tipsters from just about anywhere who come forward to share information. Decades of movies and television have glamorized the agency's spies - officially known as "clandestine operatives" - but secret agents are actually a relatively small part of the agency's resources. The CIA employs thousands of specialists in many areas, including languages, information technology, intelligence analysis, and science and engineering, among others. The one thing that ties together this constellation of professionals is their unwavering devotion to duty. Real life is not a movie, and working for the CIA is difficult and demanding. The agency attracts the best and brightest, and keeps them with career opportunities that are very appealing. Everybody who works for the CIA must also pass an exhaustive background check in order to be granted a security clearance. Employees in especially sensitive positions, like clandestine operations, are required to undergo particularly rigorous investigation. To even consider a career with the CIA you must have at least a bachelor's degree or significant experience in a similar field, like the military, and a flawless personal history.