Can You Get a Software Development Job With the NSA?

National Security AdministrationComputer scientists and programmers who are looking to get a software development job with the National Security Agency¬†are in luck: The agency has a growing demand for proficient computer programmers and engineers who know how to create custom software, troubleshoot existing software, and work with the agency’s systems to provide a superior and more efficient user experience. One thing to consider, however, is that the National Security Agency rarely hires someone purely to do software development work within the agency.

In fact, the NSA prefers to hire someone who is competent in a large number of diverse areas. This allows the agency to cut down on costs and assign a constantly changing list of tasks and responsibilities to its IT and computer engineering teams. Before applying to the NSA for a software job, consider the areas of competency required at the time of hiring.

Software Development and Engineering

It might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: Aspiring NSA software developers must have an extensive educational background in software development, software engineering, and computer programming. The NSA requires working knowledge of a few important programming languages, including JAVA, XML, HTML, CSS, and C++. Knowledge of other C-based programming languages is considered a major advantage by those hiring computer experts within the National Security Agency as well, as is a working knowledge of web application design, development, and deployment.

Network Security and Administration

The broad focus of computer jobs at the National Security Agency doesn’t stop at software. In fact, successful new hire should be able to setup a network, maintain the network and enforce security policies, and monitor the software and hardware for security breaches that might put NSA data and files at risk of theft or exploitation. Network security professionals will oversee internal data and the transfer of key data to other agencies via electronic means, and therefore this role is one of the most crucial and competitive at the NSA.

Comprehensive Systems Engineering

Hardware and software jobs exist separately within the NSA, at least when it comes to writing applications and protecting the servers that hold agency data. In other areas, however, comprehensive systems engineering is a required skill. This involves the integration of hardware resources and custom software applications, often with the building of custom servers and workstations for agency use. Systems engineers will focus on hardware and software selection, systems design and network architecture, and modeling new systems for agency use and approval.

Communications Experts

The National Security Agency is heavily involved in communications hardware and software, with new hires being required to understand the nuances of satellite, wireless, and landline communication, as well as the phones and software that make such communication possible. They may be responsible for integrating communication methods into workstations and server architecture as well, through custom software and hardware-based methods.

Related Resource: Software Engineer

The NSA Wants Much More Than Just a Software Developer

Lots of software developers work for the NSA and make a big impact on national security, but that’s not their only skill. The NSA, to remain efficient and within federal budgetary requirements, hires computer experts who know hardware, software, engineering, and communications systems, so that they can assign a more diverse array of tasks to a smaller group of people. Because of this unique hiring requirement, a software development job with the NSA is both hard to land and challenging to keep.