Just as any government organization, and given that it is a global intelligence organization, the SVR employs people from many disciplines - law, journalism, public affairs, accounting, medicine, occupational health nursing, finance, logistics, business, engineering, computer science/information technology, forensics, and the natural and physical sciences. The SVR has secretaries and other program generalists who have extensive experience and competence in performing their duties.
Since its inception (in December 1991), the SVR has departed from past precedent analysis methodologies of the KGB First Chief Directorate. No longer are the analytical products (assessments, estimates, white papers, and strategic studies) geared toward a preconceived or political agenda or rife with Communist era political correctness, but are geared with a mandate of objectivity from analysis of both open source and collected information. This is a major change because under the U.S.S.R., the political leaders wanted the raw intelligence and would perform the "analysis" themselves- whereas the Russian Federation's leaders want professional, scholarly, in-depth analyses and briefings provided for them. SVR analysts tend to be paid far higher salaries and benefits than their counterparts in academia or think tanks and represent some of the best minds in the Russian Federation. SVR analysts generally have a Ph. D. or master's degree in their field or discipline (primarily with respect to international relations, geographic area studies, economics, political science, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and law). Analysts are assigned to either a geographic or functional division within the Operations Directorate in order to interact with operational personnel. The Analysis & Information Directorate has core analysts who collate and analyze information, and write necessary documents, briefing materials, and papers to inform policymakers in the Russian Federation. Unlike intelligence analysts in other foreign intelligence services, SVR analysts are not shy about adding their opinions and providing recommended courses of action (with projected outcomes analyses) as addenda to their products; in fact, President Yeltsin and President Putin and their administrations have encouraged this practice. Many of the SVR's analytic products have been disseminated to other governments (especially since the events of 9/11) and have gained the SVR greater stature and respect as a premier global intelligence organization. The SVR does make a historical series available to the public and media (either in paper or CD-ROM forms).
The SVR's Science Directorate organizationally houses the SVR Academy (formerly called the "Academy of Foreign Intelligence" in the pre-Putin era of the SVR and "The Red Banner School" during the KGB's existence). The SVR Academy is primarily located at Yasenevo (just outside metro Moscow) and provides world-class training, education, and facilities to officer candidates and other students. Academy professors are highly experienced intelligence practitioners, many even have advanced degrees from Russian, British, American, Canadian, and other universities. Interestingly enough, the SVR has a "publishing house" where professors, students, and SVR executives can publish books, training manuals, research compendiums, and in-house journals. The SVR Academy coordinates all training and education needs (in-service and external) for the SVR's global workforce- including basic and advanced operations curricula, counter-terrorism courses, and even doctoral courses.
Under the current Administration and General Sergei Lebedev's (the current Director) leadership, the salaries and benefits paid to SVR officers have improved significantly. The days of the mid-1990s, where SVR had problems making payroll, are gone. As an example, in 2002, all SVR Officers received an across-the-board 50% raise (in addition to the ordinary salary adjustments for state employees) and new (tax-free) allowances to afford a home, condominium, or apartment in the Russian Federation (even while stationed overseas). SVR officers currently receive competitive salaries with the Russian and CIS private economic sectors and special tax advantages. Retirement benefits are correlated to the Russian military's defined benefit plan (regular, non-contributory annuity) and are higher than those provided to other civil servants, and the social insurance plan (which provides regular payments for women at age 60 and men at age 65, survivors payments and disability payments). President Putin has reportedly expressed a desire for civil servants to have a savings-investment plan like that provided by the U.S. Government to its federal civilian employees and members of the uniformed services. The SVR and the FSB are believed to be the first two federal entities where a thrift savings-investment plan would be offered as a third tier to complement the regular annuity and social insurance plans.
The SVR was somewhat "shunned" by many of the best students and intellectuals during the 1990s. Since 2002, recruitment (according to the Russian media) has picked up and the service is operating at full staff ceiling. In other words, the only people being hired are those needed to replace an employee who is retiring or separating. While standards fell in the late 1990s, now only the best and brightest, cream-of-the-crop candidates are being hired to become SVR officers. Minimum requirements are being between 21 and 35 years old (age waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis by the SVR Director), being a Russian citizen, no prior criminal record (no felonies, drug use, hooliganism, moral turpitude), good mental and physical health, and having a bachelor's degree. A graduate degree in law, international relations, foreign languages, public administration, economics, criminal justice, business, geographic area studies, engineering, computer science, or history is desired. Prior military experience and overseas experience is considered desirable. Unlike the KGB, the SVR welcomes all races, ethnicities and creeds. All personnel, just as in any other Russian Federation ministry, serve at the pleasure of the ministry head (in this case, the SVR Director).