Attacking and exploiting communications networks Information Warfare

Conducting psychological operations. Managing the application of cryptography and cryptanalysis. Advising decision makers from the tactical level to the national level. Those leading information warfare efforts help ensure that we capitalize on the information vulnerabilities of our enemies.

Job Description

Executing the full spectrum of cyber, cryptology and signals intelligence; information operations; computer network operations; and electronic warfare missions across the cyber, electromagnetic and space domains, Information Warfare Officers (IWOs) play a vital role. Their mission: to deter and defeat aggression, to provide warning of intent, and to ensure freedom of action while achieving military objectives in and through cyberspace.

Serving as Officers (four-year degree required), IWOs are leaders in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) – a group of highly specialized information experts fully integrated across surface, subsurface, air, space and cyberspace domains. With shared functions, capabilities and resources, IDC members leverage their skills to optimize decision making and to maximize the use of sensors, weapons, network communications and control systems for purposes of national security and warfighting. 

Specific Responsibilities

Information Warfare Officers are directly involved in every aspect of Naval operations – delivering information to decision makers by attacking, defending and exploiting networks to capitalize on vulnerabilities in the information domain. As an IWO, you will employ a thorough understanding of sensors and weapons, strategy and tactics, as well as national systems’ capabilities and limitations. This role may include:

  • Qualifying as an Operations Watch Officer, responsible for real-time signal intelligence collection, processing, analysis and reporting
  • Conducting computer network operations
  • Developing and acquiring cutting-edge exploitation and defense systems
  • Planning and delivering information warfare effects during exercises and operations
  • Leading Information Dominance personnel across the spectrum of military operations
  • Overseeing the work of Cryptologic Technicians – Enlisted Sailors (no degree required) who serve as specialists in different areas of cryptology

Work Environment

Information Warfare Officers serve in challenging roles of increasing scope and responsibility both afloat and ashore. This often includes an initial assignment serving at one of the National Security Agency Cryptologic Centers and typically involves rotations between sea, shore and educational tours. Settings could also include service aboard ships, submarines and aircraft, in support of Naval Special Warfare, anywhere from the National Security Agency to the Pentagon.

Training & Advancement

Those pursuing an Information Warfare Officer position are required to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, R.I. Upon completion, they attend an eight-week IW Basic Course of instruction in Pensacola, Fla. – learning the fundamentals of everything from Electromagnetic Theory to Tactical Cryptology to Signals Intelligence Reporting.

From there, IWOs are required to complete specific qualifications as part of their operational training during Fleet tours and are expected to pursue advanced education opportunities. In the course of service, specialized training received could lead to credentialing, certification and/or licensure opportunities from a number of national boards and organizations. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but are competitive and based on performance.

Education Opportunities

Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Information Warfare Officers can advance their education through the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Navy (SOCNAV) Degree Program, by pursuing opportunities at institutions such as Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) or Navy War College (NWC) and by completing Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) at one of the various service colleges.

Postgraduate education is very important to the success of those serving as Information Warfare Officers. Many IWOs will attend the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to complete a master’s degree in electrical engineering, cyber systems and operations, computer science, or space systems.

Pay Range

Like most positions, promotions depend upon your performance and time in service. Navy Officers are rewarded with excellent benefits – including a competitive salary and opportunities to earn additional pay for special duty (such as sea pay, hazardous duty incentive pay and foreign language proficiency pay).


A four-year degree is required to work as an Information Warfare Officer. Candidates seeking an Officer position in this community must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a technical field, preferably in areas of study related to math, computer science and engineering.

All candidates must also be U.S. citizens willing to serve worldwide and eligible for a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) security clearance.

After the Navy

The specialized training and expertise you gain as an Information Warfare Officer, coupled with your security clearance, may prepare you for a wide range of job opportunities available within the U.S. Intelligence Community, including future employment with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or National Security Agency (NSA).

Other career opportunities in the civilian sector include work as Computer and Information Systems Managers, Computer Systems Analysts, Database Administrators, Management Analysts, and Network and Computer Systems Administrators.

Consider Your Service Options.

There are different ways that you can commit to serve in America’s Navy. Besides full-time opportunities in Active Duty, part-time Reserve positions are also available in this career area.