What it does: Australia’s national security service
Staff stats: Around 2000 employees, mainly based in Canberra
The good bits: Serving your country. ASIO staff help protect Australia’s way of life. They will also never ask you to take work home with you!
The not so good bits: You can’t vent about a bad day at work. The identity of ASIO officers is secret, so you can’t tell people what you do or who you work for.
Hiring grads with degrees in: Health & Medical Sciences; Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences; Law & Legal Studies; Property & Built Environment; Sciences; Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration
After WWII, it was discovered Soviet spies were accessing confidential government data from both the UK and Australia. In 1949, this prompted the Prime Minister to issue a ‘Directive for the Establishment and Maintenance of a Security Service’, which set in motion the creation of ASIO.
For the last seven decades, ASIO has had a colourful history as Australia’s national security service. Much like its more glamorous foreign counterparts, such as Britain’s MI5, it's tasked with identifying, investigating and, in some circumstances, dealing with threats to national security. During the Cold War, this largely consisted of keeping an eye on the Soviets and their Australian fellow travellers. More recently it has been involved in everything from preventing terrorist attacks to monitoring activist groups threatening political violence.
ASIO had an annual budget of $533 million for the 2017/18 financial year. It’s expected to protect the nation from espionage, sabotage, terrorism and foreign interference. When investigating threats to Australia’s security, the ASIO Act 1979 allows officers to do certain things which would otherwise be unlawful. Despite what popular culture may portray, ASIO officers do not carry firearms. ASIO operates under the direction of the Director-General of Security and is a statutory agency in the Home Affairs portfolio.
ASIO has the same commitment to diversity and inclusion as all Australia’s public sector employers. It actively encourages women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) and those from diverse backgrounds to apply. ASIO has been awarded silver accreditation by the Australian Workplace Equality Index.
However, there is a rigorous selection process to work at ASIO. While your application information is strictly confidential, people not comfortable providing detailed personal information might wish to consider if ASIO is right for them.
ASIO keeps Australians safe. While its missteps have received plenty of publicity, only those who’ve worked there know how many tragic events the actions of ASIO staff have prevented.
ASIO employs grads from a range of disciplines depending on what role you are applying for. The Intelligence Officer or Analyst Program accepts candidates from any field of study, as long as you have the right aptitude.
ASIO will train you in everything you need to know over the 12-month initial training program. Intelligence Officers have a wide array of career opportunities within ASIO, completing postings in both analytical and human intelligence collection roles. Intelligence Analysts focus specifically on analysis and are posted to a broad range of analytical roles throughout their career with the Organisation.
Technology more your thing? The Technologists Graduate Program is looking for people who have studied STEM and ICT subjects such as Cyber Security, Computer Forensics, Mathematics, Data Science/Analytics, Network Engineering, Software Engineering/Development, Telecommunications, Electrical, Mechanical, Computer Engineering, Information Security and ICT Systems Integration and Management.
This program prepares you to be a Technologist, which involves using or developing technology to gather and analyse intelligence. This can include telecommunications interception, computer exploitation, technical surveillance, data science and electronic or software engineering.
As well as the above roles, ASIO recruits psychologists, lawyers and linguists, as well as support staff in areas such as IT, HR and finance. If you are looking for a start to your career in these areas, ASIO handles all of these functions in house so keep your eye on their website for opportunities.
To apply, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen and lodge your application while based in Australia. You will undergo a long and demanding assessment process. This will include an extensive background check to determine whether you are eligible for a ‘Positive Vetting’ security clearance. As part of the security clearance process, you may be drug tested, have your digital footprint checked out and be required to supply information about your current and past financial situation.
Obviously, you’ll also need to be discreet – ASIO doesn’t even like people revealing they’ve applied to work there. ASIO doesn’t supply much information about the stages of the recruitment process. As with other public service grad programs, you should be prepared for a long and bureaucratic ordeal. The process starts with an online application.
You’ll earn $78,421 while doing the Technologists grad program, with a pay bump to $82,281 once you’ve completed it.
For the Intelligence Professionals program, you will start on $81,464 and increase to $90,042 upon successful completion of the program.
All salaries attract superannuation of 15.4% on top of these figures.
A career at ASIO starts at different times for different people. Both graduates and mid-career professionals will have opportunities for professional development through graduate-entry and leading intelligence and management training programs within our career management frameworks.
You can select from, and move between, a variety of jobs in ASIO, always growing and developing new skills during your career in security intelligence.
As with most public service roles, you’ll need to develop your capabilities to be competitive when looking for promotion to the next level.
ASIO is a unique workplace with an important purpose. The staff are committed to deliver on its mission of safeguarding Australia and our way of life.
The Organisation will work with you and support you through the good times, as well as the more challenging times. The environment is busy and the work can be stressful, but ASIO officers take care of each other and the Organisation provides a number of support services for our all staff.
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