Careers Advice

Excellent support. Great Training.
Unrivalled development. A career option
everyone should consider.


The work we do has to remain confidential. But there are plenty of things we can openly share about what it’s like to work here. Such as the fact that we have an open, collaborative and supportive culture, first-class training programmes and huge scope for development.

Although our work is incredibly important and we need the highest levels of integrity, we’re a very friendly, welcoming place to work with a relaxed, open culture. Our people are down to earth and genuinely keen to help each other. We encourage collaboration by giving them the flexibility to try different roles in different teams. And of course, we make sure they have all the training and support they need. It all ensures they can play their part in keeping the UK safe from ever-evolving cyber threats.

  • Who we look for

    We welcome people from all walks of life, because it’s talent, drive and potential that really matter. If you have the skills we need to keep the country safe, it doesn’t matter where you developed them. Of course, we have some qualification and eligibility requirements, but we actively aim to reflect the diversity of the nation we serve.

    We have support networks for women, BME, disabled, and LGBT employees. We undergo regular diversity benchmarking by Opportunity Now and Race for Opportunity. We develop partnerships with organisations such as Stonewall. And we run groups like Women in Technology (WITTY) to encourage more women to take up STEM subjects.

    Test your skills on some of our challenges:

    Christmas challenge
    Cyber challenges

    Or why not download our free Cryptoy app at Google Play.

  • Choosing the right path

    School leavers – One of your biggest decisions could be whether to choose an apprenticeship or to study for a degree. Our apprenticeships will lead to a degree, so they offer the best of both worlds.

    If you’re still weighing up your options, these links could be useful:
    All About School Leavers
    Not Going to Uni
    National Careers Service

    Students – One of the best ways to get enhanced career prospects is to take a summer placement or internship. At GCHQ, we run a number of student schemes.

    Still unsure? – Keep an open mind, assess your skills and take a closer look at organisations that might offer interesting challenges. These links may help:

    Summer schemes and internships: RateMyPlacement (internships)
    Industrial placements: RateMyPlacement (placements)
    Graduates – direct entry:  Save the Graduate
    Apprenticeships:  National Careers Service website (apprenticeships). This application guide is also really useful

  • Showcasing your skills

    Almost all employers will look for examples of how you’ve used particular skills. Here are some of the more common ones that we (and many other organisations) look for:

    Communication – Show how you can get your point across and take on board other people’s views by giving examples of presentations you’ve made or how you’ve taken a fresh approach after listening to others.

    Problem solving – Almost everything we do is about tackling complex problems. Show how you overcame a difficult challenge or made a tough decision without all the details.

    Team working – Have you been involved in group projects at school or university, or are you a member of a club, society or sports team?

    Organising – We can’t afford to make mistakes, so show how you’ve organised a family event, juggled different priorities to meet a deadline, or planned ahead.

    Curiosity – We look for people who don’t just take things at face value. Do you always look for new and better ways to do things? Are you always building your knowledge and keeping up to date with industry developments?

    Determination – Our work’s highly complex, so we always need the determination to succeed against the odds. Show how you’ve overcome tough setbacks, learned from your mistakes and stayed positive to deliver beyond expectations.

    You can find out more about skills and competencies here:

  • Making the most of your application

    Research is vital, so you can tailor your applications – and even your CV – to the role and organisation. The more you reflect the role, its requirements and the organisation itself, the better your application will be. Find out more about applications and CVs here.

    Online tests – Many organisations use these, so it’s a good idea to practice as many as possible. You’ll find some examples here.

    Interviews – These will usually include some competency-based questions, asking you to describe a situation when you’ve used a certain quality or skill. The STAR framework will help you to answer these kinds of questions.

    These sites offer some useful hints and tips on how to succeed in interviews:
    Job interview tips 
    Interview techniques and tips for graduates
    Interview tips

Career Paths

  • Sponsored Undergraduate Technologist Scheme
    • Joined the Sponsored Undergraduate Technologists Scheme (SUT). I chose the scheme mainly because I was interested in being paid to solve puzzles.
    • My student placement involved researching pattern-finding in big data. Then I started my first full-time post as a software engineer.
    • Worked in different business areas and with a variety of teams. This enabled me to see how the business works as a whole.
    • Regular training, with up to date technical courses both specific to my role at the time and providing transferable skills.
    • Travelled to the USA and Canada to collaborate with partner agencies on complex problems.
    • Now working as a mathematician. It’s been great to work with – and learn from – some fantastic people throughout the business.
  • Sponsored Undergraduate Technologist Scheme
    • Joined the Summer Undergraduate Technologist Scheme in 2009, which offered the chance to use my technical skills and knowledge to contribute to national security.
    • Worked in a number of different teams and on a range of projects, writing source code that’s used operationally on a daily basis.
    • Training mostly on the job, with structured courses and conferences adding to my professional development. At the moment I’m being mentored through the process of IET chartership.
    • Collaborated with international partners and contributed to the safety of British armed forces during the Afghanistan campaign.
    • Currently designing technical solutions for the National Offensive Cyber Programme, but joining the Future Leaders programme, hopefully to become one of GCHQ’s engineering or technical leaders.
  • DB3 - IT Support
    • Left school halfway through my A-Levels and was at a loss with where to start my career. A family member suggested I apply to GCHQ. Joined IT Support, carrying out first line support.
    • Joining GCHQ can be daunting but the training made the transition really easy. It was very different to what I was used to at school, but I was fully briefed on all of the different things we had to support.
    • Moved to London to work in the Business Support team as PA to senior staff. Spent a lot of my time going to meetings all over Whitehall, with huge exposure and extensive opportunities – it’s my favourite job so far.
    • Joined the Software Asset Management Team in IT Services back in Cheltenham. Trained in a couple of different strands of ITIL and learnt a lot about contract management with software vendors.
    • Now work in the HR Schemes Team, helping to manage the SIA Technical Apprenticeships and the Cyber Summer Schools. Working with young people is incredibly challenging, but very rewarding.
  • GMT (Former Future Leader programme)
    • Gained a music degree and was looking for an organisation that saw me as someone with valuable transferable skills, rather than assuming all I could do was play the piano.
    • Applied to join the civil service fast stream at the FCO and was made aware of GCHQ. It sounded interesting because public service is very important to me, but I also love to travel and have an interest in international affairs.
    • Valued the variety of roles, the networks that I’ve been able to build quickly and the access to senior people that it gave me.
    • Worked as a senior liaison officer in the US, liaising with the NSA, White House, DHS, CIA, FBI and many others. Gained a real insight into US government policy development and thinking.
    • Worked on capability development, supporting military operations and corporate development.
    • Now Head of News, responsible for external media, branding and developing social media strategy.
  • Apprentice
    • Wanted to work in Intelligence and the scheme was my way in.
    • Joined GCHQ and got to work on real life problems with industry recognised training and certifications.
    • Through work placements I discovered areas of work I would never have had the opportunity to experience.
    • Now work in an operational area, working closely with colleagues from other government agencies, making a unique contribution to Britain’s Security.

Departments and Roles at GCHQ