Capabilities Development Specialist - Entry/Experienced Level

Fort Meade, Maryland
Oct 22, 2021
Oct 29, 2021
Full Time


Do you have skills in computer science and seek a higher calling? Do your hobbies include building robots, computers, or innovating solutions? Do you possess a strong grasp on low-level development principles surrounding hardware, software, and networking?

If so, join the nation's high-priority mission as a capabilities development specialist (CDS).

Learn more about this agency


As a CDS, you will apply your expertise in computer science and engineering to develop offensive and defensive technical solutions to solve critical technical challenges for the NSA. CDS' conduct innovative research to target computer security vulnerabilities and develop new approaches to computer network attack, exploitation, and defense. Apply your passion for knowledge and unique abilities to make a significant impact on the protection of the nation and its citizens.

Job roles may include:
- Developing exploitation capabilities and analytics to enable foreign target network collection
- Designing hardware components and systems to further signals intelligence missions
- Analyzing sophisticated malware

Travel Required

Not required

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

The ideal candidate is someone with a desire for continual learning and who holds knowledge, skill in experience in one or more of the following:
- Programming in languages such as C, C++, and/or Java, especially in kernel development and device driver development, network/socket programming, and embedded systems development
- Scripting languages (e.g., Python, Perl, or Ruby)
- Assembly language(s)
- Hardware design (e.g., FPGA, VHDL, Verilog, PCB)
- RF system design (e.g., DSP, SDR)
- Software reverse engineering/interactive debugging tools (e.g., Ghidra, Ollydbg, gdb)
- Hardware analysis tools (e.g., JTAG, Oscilloscopes)
- Software vulnerability analysis and exploitation
- Protocol and network analyzers (e.g., Wireshark, tcpdump)
- Computer networking (e.g., communication protocols, routing and switching)

Relevant experience must be in engineering hardware and/or software over their lifecycle (i.e., requirements analysis, design, development, implementation, testing, integration, deployment/installation, and maintenance), programming, vulnerability analysis, penetration testing, computer forensics, and/or systems engineering. Completion of military training in a relevant area such as JCAC (Joint Cyber Analysis course) will be considered towards the relevant experience requirement (i.e., 24-week JCAC course will count as 6 months of experience).


Salary Range: $73,076 - $91,057 (Entry/Developmental) NSA-MD location
Salary Range: $84,529 - $113,362 (Full Performance) NSA-MD location
Salary Range: $103,690 - $159,286 (Senior) NSA-MD location
Salary Range: $144,128 - $172,500 (Expert) NSA-MD location

Entry is with a Bachelor's degree plus 6 years of relevant experience or a Master's degree plus 4 years of relevant experience or a Doctoral degree plus 2 years of relevant experience. An Associate's degree plus 8 years of relevant experience may be considered for individuals with in-depth experience that is clearly related to the position.

Degree must be in Computer Science (CS) or related field (e.g., Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, Systems Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Security, Computer Forensics, Network Engineering). Degrees in Information Technology, Information Systems, Information Security, Networking (Systems Administration), and Information Assurance may be considered relevant if the programs contain, at minimum, a concentration of courses in the following foundational CS areas: algorithms; computer architecture (not network architecture); programming methodologies and languages; data structures; logic and computation; and upper-level mathematics (for example, calculus, discrete mathematics).


Entry is with a Bachelor's degree plus relevant experience, or a Master's degree plus relevant experience or a Doctoral degree and no experience. A high school diploma, GED, or an Associate's degree plus relevant experience may be considered for individuals with in-depth experience that is clearly related to the position.

See qualifications section for type of relevant experience and number of years of relevant experience that is needed to qualify.

Additional information

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

***PLEASE NOTE: U.S. Citizenship is required for all applicants. Reasonable accommodations provided to applicants with disabilities during the application and hiring process where appropriate. NSA is an equal opportunity employer and abides by applicable employment laws and regulations. All applicants and employees are subject to random drug testing in accordance with Executive Order 12564. Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a security background investigation and polygraph.

This position is a Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS) position in the Excepted Service under 10 U.S.C. 1601. DoD Components with DCIPS positions apply Veterans' Preference to eligible candidates as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 USC, in accordance with the procedures provided in DoD Instruction 1400.25, Volume 2005, DCIPS Employment and Placement. If you are a veteran claiming veterans' preference, as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 U.S.C., you may be asked to submit documents verifying your eligibility.

Please note that you may be asked a series of questions depending on the position you apply for. Your responses will be used as part of the screening process of your application and will assist in determining your eligibility for the position. Be sure to elaborate on experiences in your resume. Failure to provide the required information or providing inaccurate information will result in your application not being considered for this position. Only those applicants who meet the qualifications for the position will be contacted to begin employment processing.

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance
Top Secret

Drug test required

Required Documents

Please attach an unofficial copy of your transcripts when applying for this position. Providing a copy of your transcripts is especially critical since the minimum qualifications for this position require a CS/CE degree OR a degree that demonstrates a concentration of CS coursework. For example, degrees in Computer Networking, Information Science, Information Systems, Information Technology, Information Security, Information Assurance, Cyber Security, and Digital Forensics MAY be considered for this position IF your coursework/transcripts demonstrate a concentration of CS coursework. Foundational CS coursework includes the following courses: Computer Architecture, Programming Languages, Data Structures, and Algorithms.

If you are a veteran claiming veterans' preference, as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 U.S.C., you may be asked to submit documents verifying your eligibility.

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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