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How to Obtain a Security Clearance

How to Obtain a Security Clearance

Roberta Chinsky Matuson / Monster.com

July 12, 2008

Suppose you’ve come across an hourly job that looks like a great fit. There’s just one small matter: The position requires a US security clearance, and you don’t have one. You may think that you can just apply for the clearance and in no time the job will be yours, but the process isn’t quite that simple.

You cannot obtain a security clearance for yourself. Your current or prospective employer has to do this for you. Since the process is costly and time-consuming, organizations won’t do it unless it’s absolutely essential. Make sure you arm yourself with the following information so you’re ready to apply for the jobs you are targeting.


What’s a Security Clearance?


A security clearance is used to confirm an applicant’s trustworthiness and reliability before providing access to national security information.

There are three basic levels of security classification:

Confidential: This clearance refers to material which, if improperly disclosed, could be reasonably expected to cause some measurable damage to national security. The vast majority of military personnel are given this very basic level of clearance. It must be reinvestigated every 15 years.

Secret: Unauthorized disclosure of the information this clearance covers could be expected to cause grave damage to national security. This level gets reinvestigated every 10 years.

Top Secret: Individuals with this clearance have access to information or material that could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if it was released without authorization. This level needs to be reinvestigated every five years.


Who Needs a Security Clearance?


If your job requires access to classified government documents or if you work in a government-secured facility, you must hold a security clearance.

Hourly positions that may require a security clearance include secretaries, security officers, librarians, system administrators and computer-support personnel who have access to classified documents or systems.


Obtaining a Security Clearance


According to John Wojcik, manager of security and safety for a Department of Defense contractor, it can take up to two years to obtain a security clearance due to the high number of background checks already in progress. The process varies by federal agency and is constantly being tweaked based on current threats. Here is how it generally works:

1) Applicants must go through the application phase, which involves verification of US citizenship, fingerprinting and completion of the Personnel Security Questionnaire (SF-86).
2) The Defense Security Service conducts thorough background checks.
3) Last is the adjudication phase, during which findings from the investigation are reviewed and evaluated based on 13 factors determined by the Department of Defense. Examples of these factors include criminal and personal conduct, substance abuse and any mental disorders.
4) Clearance is granted or denied when this part of the process has been completed.


Things to Consider Before Proceeding


“The process of getting clearance can be very intrusive,” says Dave Archibald, director of compensation for Bedford, Massachusetts-based MITRE Corp. The procedure may include polygraphs, discussions with neighbors and interviews in which very personal questions are asked.

Moreover, Wojcik suggests you find out from human resources what the disqualifiers are before you quit your current job. “You don’t want to quit a good job only to find out that you are not eligible for clearance because you have relatives that live in another country,” he says.


Avoid Scams


Experts warn job seekers about recruiting firms, attorneys or other companies that promise to obtain a security clearance for you or “preapprove” you for a security clearance — for a fee. They are scams.


Get Your Foot in the Door


If you are serious about obtaining a position for which a security clearance is a must, Archibald suggests starting in a nonclassified job. Put in your time, and let your manager know that you are interested in moving up to a classified position.

Also see Security Clearances 101: How to Maximize Your Earnings


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    NavyGuy88

    7 days ago

    2 comments

    I am in need of help here. I retired from the U.S. Navy four years ago this month. I was a Cryptologic Technician Technical, a radar analyst. My list of jobs include tours onboard the USS Blue Ridge, two tours with an airborne command out of Rota, Spain, and four tours with security groups in Japan and Denver, Colorado. Upon retirement I understood that the paperwork for my security clearance did not go through during my last tour, so basically I had access to classified material without a clearance; this was a technicality that was overlooked and accepted by my command that in the long run does not help me or my family out. I would like to know how a can obtain a security clearance so that I may be able to gain access to classified material again and possibly do the job that I had done for 21+ years of my life? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    katya_109

    21 days ago

    2 comments

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHERE DO I SEND THE QUESTIONNAIRE SF-86?
    IN ADDITION I CANNOT OPEN IT IN A NORMAL FORMAT. IT IS ONLY PDF. PLEASE HELP WITH SUGGESTIONS.

  • Bojan-pro2_max50

    Partizan

    about 1 month ago

    4 comments

    I'm fluent in Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian). I'm a USA citizen. I worked as a Linguist for 2 different interpreting companies (work compensation, depositions, medical app) , currently assigned for an assignment. Work experience as Regulatory Coordination (Marketing, Recruiting)Also, I have a Bachelors degree and now persuing IT certifications. Net +, CCNA, Security+. I live in Tampa Bay Area (Florida). Interested in obtaining security clearance. Can anybody in this universe help? Email me: mijatovic.bo@gmail.com

  • Bojan-pro2_max50

    Partizan

    about 1 month ago

    4 comments

    I'm fluent in Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian). I'm a USA citizen. I worked as a Linguist for 2 different interpreting companies (work compensation, depositions, medical app) , currently assigned for an assignment. Work experience as Regulatory Coordination (Marketing, Recruiting)Also, I have a Bachelors degree and now persuing IT certifications. Net +, CCNA, Security+. I live in Tampa Bay Area (Florida). Interested in obtaining security clearance. Can anybody in this universe help? Email me: mijatovic.bo@gmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    JonnhyBgood

    6 months ago

    4 comments

    Did everyone not read the article, it says get a non-classified job, then ask your manager to apply for you. Putting your email and phone number is only going to get you on the spam list.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    JonnhyBgood

    6 months ago

    4 comments

    Did everyone not read the article, it says get a non-classified job, then ask your manager to apply for you. Putting your email and phone number is only going to get you on the spam list.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    agoodwin88

    6 months ago

    2 comments

    does anyone know for sure if you have a dui on your record; automatic disqualification, or can i seal my records in advance, and just disclose the information in my application? thanks all, my email: agoodwin88@hotmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    tasha6868

    7 months ago

    2 comments

    How can I get security clearance?
    tashaa6868@gmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    cdwimmer

    7 months ago

    2 comments

    I realize that your employer has to help you obtain a security clearance, my question is I just received my bachelors degree in criminal justice and criminology from Indiana State University. I am not the typical college student I just turned 40 and I would like to know if there is any other way to get a security clearance because I would like to to find a professional career with the government. cdwimmer73@gmail.com

  • Facebook_picture_max50

    USMCWPNINST

    7 months ago

    2 comments

    To whom this may concern, I use to have a clearance but the time over laps due to 2 knee replacements. I would like to obtain a clearance again to continue to serve my Country as an E S G, E R T, P S D, Sniper or any way I can serve with any contracting company that will hire me for escorting Officials or guarding them. glbolton@peoplepc.com (757) 577-2629.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    molly_girl3726

    8 months ago

    2 comments

    Dear Sir/Madam:
    I am very interested in applying for a "Security Clearance." I have a very good record and I would like to apply for a government position-I have many years of experience in the legal environment. Could you kindly advise me on how to get the process started on applying for a "Security Clearance?" I would really appreciate any advice or helpful information you could send me. My e-mail is: ellen_spratt@yahoo.com. My name is: Jeanne Ellen Spratt Dated: December 7, 2013. Thank you so much.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    8 months ago

    I would like to apply for security clearance to obtain a government position. How do I get this? Email me at quintonbrisco@gmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Salam7784

    9 months ago

    2 comments

    I would like to apply for security clearance in order to work for a goverment position, you can email me at salam_alomran@yahoo.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ravindrashukla

    11 months ago

    2 comments

    Most of the jobs ask - do you security clearance? Based on reading above text, it says employer can only apply for security clearance. How do I apply myself for security clearance? I am confuse on the process. I am US citizen and eligible but How do I get security clearance - that is my basic question. Please response to ravindra.shukla@gmail.com thanks you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    bdrollinson

    12 months ago

    2 comments

    I would like to apply for a security clearance in order to work for a government position. You can email me at bdrollinson@hotmail.com. I am a US citizen that currently lives in Tampa, FL and has work as Sr. Business Analyst in the Healthcare industry and has as work for Florida Department of Health in their Security Department. I have a degree in Information Technology.

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