A defense analyst works with policies and programs that concern national safety and security. Most of the time, defense analysts are employed by the federal or national government, but there are a variety of different branches within government that may need to hire such an individual. With most of these types of positions, job applicants must have a great deal of military experience in order to qualify.
As a general rule, a defense analyst performs functions that are technical and analytical in nature. The issues that are dealt with in these types of jobs generally include the detailed analysis of topics or situations that deal directly with security policies and procedures on the national or international level. In the United States, some defense analysts work directly for branches of the military or Congress, but, for the most part, they usually work for the Department of Defense.
People who hold defense analyst positions need to be very experienced at quantitative analysis because these jobs tend to involve dealing with heavy loads of information that must be evaluated and catalogued. For most positions, a defense analyst must have an advanced degree in engineering, statistics, economics, or the physical sciences. Sometimes, people with advanced degrees in mathematics may also qualify for these positions.
An ability to learn new concepts quickly is a desirable trait for defense analysts. For many employment positions, this means that candidates need to be adept with computer programs. Having an undergraduate degree in computer science, or a great deal of relevant work experience, can also be helpful in finding a job as a defense analyst. It is also important for prospective analysts to have the ability to work independently, as a great deal of time is spent working on projects alone.
Defense analysts usually deal with highly sensitive information. For the most part, this data is top secret in nature, so people who hold these jobs are generally required to secure a top secret government security clearance. This means that the individuals who hold these jobs must have clean criminal records and impeccable credentials.
In order to be an effective and successful defense analyst, candidates must be able to communicate well with others, verbally and in writing. Both forms of communication are equally important in this type of job, as analysts may have to relay information to people all over the world. People in these positions also need to be good at compiling detailed reports on short notice, so that sensitive information can be shared with others in a timely manner.