Your Clearance Questions Answered
Security clearance is a process that determines whether an individual is eligible for access to classified information or for access to a non-classified Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). It’s required in many fields such as government contractors, defense industry contractors, and law enforcement agencies, as well as many other private companies across most economic sectors in the United States.
Do you need security clearance? What benefits does it provide? How do you obtain security clearance?
What Is Security Clearance?
A security clearance (‘clearance’) is a formal authorization that allows a person to have access to classified information. Someone with security clearance can work in sensitive positions for the government, military, or private sector.
What Are the Different Levels of Clearance?
It’s important to note that not everyone with the same level of clearance can see the same type of information. Clearances come in three levels:
- Top Secret
Does Clearance Expire, or Is It for Life?
If you leave military service or a cleared job, you only keep your clearance for two years. It’s also important to note that under the Trusted Workforce 2.0 reforms, clearance is under continuous vetting (CV) and therefore under constant review.
Will I Need to Reapply for Clearance?
If you allow your clearance to expire, you must reapply. The good news is that the application process has been accelerated in recent months, and having a previous clearance does count favorably.
However, while the clearance process might now only take a few days or weeks (though it can take much longer), you will need to supply information on the application form that includes the following:
- Your background, including family history and personal history
- Any criminal records
- Any history of addiction
- Any disclosable medical conditions
- Any disclosable mental or physical conditions
- Referees for your background and character
You will also need to confirm that you are an American citizen.
Why Should I Obtain Clearance?
Clearance is beneficial to individuals in many industries and careers. For example, in the IT sector, there is a shortage of cleared professionals. The lack of cleared people to fill roles means that clearance gives you:
- Access to exclusive roles in high-paid cleared jobs
- Improved earning potential (estimated at up to 60% more for top secret clearance when compared to non-cleared employees)
- Easier to further obtain clearance at a higher level
Can I Obtain Clearance On My Own?
You cannot obtain clearance by direct application. You must be sponsored by a government agency or cleared contractor, and employed (either directly or as a contractor) in a role that requires you to have clearance. You may also be sponsored for clearance if you have accepted a role that requires clearance but for which you are not yet officially employed.
What Does My Career Path Look Like with Security Clearance?
Security clearance holders typically have job opportunities in the government sector or non-government organizations (NGOs), such as NASA, or private companies operating in the public interest.
Clearance holders also have increased opportunities in the private sector after gaining experience in government work. Some companies even offer employees who hold clearance positions priority over other candidates.
On the downside, the security clearance process is not easy and requires a lot of time and effort. There are many steps that need to be accomplished to qualify for clearance, including submitting extensive background information and documentation, passing tests, completing interviews, and undergoing other security measures.
If you are interested in pursuing this type of career, you should contact TECHEAD. We’ll answer your questions, provide the information you need, and keep you up to date with the many openings we have for cleared professionals across the spectrum of employers.