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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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    cdwimmer

    12 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

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    USMCWPNINST

    12 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

    about 1 year 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.

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    Account Removed

    about 1 year 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

    about 1 year 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

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    ravindrashukla

    over 1 year 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.

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    bdrollinson

    over 1 year 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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    SgtFloresD

    over 1 year ago

    2 comments

    How do i get a copy of my Secret Clearance?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    g2real

    over 1 year ago

    2 comments

    I would like to apply for a 101 security clearance to work in a government position.
    please help me @ the.kings_daughter@Hotmail.com

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    matthewwcarman

    over 1 year ago

    2 comments

    I would like to apply for security clearance in order to work for a goverment position, Who do I need to contact to get things started?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    admi3101

    almost 2 years ago

    2 comments

    I would like to apply for security clearance in order to work for a goverment position, you can email me at slb3957@yahoo.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    llrodgers

    almost 2 years ago

    2 comments

    Use to work at Fort A.P. Hill had filled out a security clearnce. form. Do I still have clearance. For employment I have nothing to hide. email me at llrodgers1@live.com letme know if im still active. or what I need to do to get this done.

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    neelygirl11

    about 2 years ago

    2 comments

    my husband was just offered a job but a requirement is Ability to obtain a secret security clearance. Over 17 years ago he got into some trouble. Charge was burglary of a dwelling. Since then there are no issues criminally. Will this prevent him from obtaining this clearance?

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    naski67

    about 2 years ago

    2 comments

    Is there any web address or email address where we can apply for this?

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    firehawk1

    about 2 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a 60 year old firefighter/paramedic looking to do some contractor work for Black Water. I am a Air force veteran with no criminal history. I serve currently as an officer on a city fire department and I'm not sure as to what clearance would be required in order to apply with Black Water. Please help get the necessary information to pursue this goal.

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