A security clearance can be a significant advantage for a veteran or soon to be separating service members who are seeking employment. Thousands of employers in fields such as commercial defense and government agencies are seeking to find qualified employees with active or current security clearance positions. Skills in demand vary greatly but include engineering, programming, intelligence, overseas careers, accounting & finance and much more.
Many employers, including both private companies and federal agencies, hire those who have or have had security clearances from Confidential to Top Secret.
And it’s not just those who work directly with classified information such as intelligence data, satellite imagery, or counterintelligence who get hired needing a security clearance. You may have an edge if you have a security clearance and seek a job in certain sectors of engineering, programming, telephony, accounting & finance, and too many others to name.
Why Do You Need A Security Clearance For Some Civilian Jobs?
The short answer is because while you might not be tasked with directly handling sensitive data, the workstation you use, the facility you are in, or even simply the overall mission of the agency may require you to be cleared to work with classified or sensitive data even if you aren’t responsible for those materials.
Sometimes the mere presence of a controlled or classified network in a building is enough to warrant security clearance screenings of employees and other personnel.
Why Veterans with Active or Current Security Clearances are in High Demand?
Background checks for a security can take anywhere between a couple months to over a year to complete and can cost thousands of dollars. At any given time there are hundreds of thousands of back logged background investigations pending security clearance. Employers can’t wait this long or afford the cost therefore HR managers are seeking out qualified veterans with active or current security clearances. Also, an individual cannot get a security clearance for themselves. A current or prospective employer has to sponsor this clearance.
How Long is a Security Clearance Good for After the Military?
Generally, a security clearance after separation from the military is good for 24 months or 2 years–but much depends on how old the original clearance or investigation was.
The time frame your clearance is considered valid may be less if the periodic investigation window expires less than two years at the time of retirement or separation from the military.
If you are due for a re-investigation of a SECRET clearance, your re-screening may be valid for 10 years unless circumstances change.
In cases where the service member has separated from the military a year prior to the re-investigation, the service member would have a year left on their current security clearance instead of two years.
Allowing your security clearance to lapse after retiring or separating means you may be required to sit through an entirely new, from-scratch investigation process as though you have never had your background checked before.
Why do we mention this? Because some veterans leave the military and choose to use their GI Bill benefits for college right away rather than returning to the workforce. In such cases, if your school keeps you out of the employment pool longer than the time left on your current clearance you may have to be reinvestigated from the beginning.
Post-military life can make getting reinvestigated more complicated. Have you become involved romantically with someone from another country?
That in and of itself may not be an issue compared to the concerns that might be raised depending on where the romantic partner is from. If that does not sound ideal or fair to you, you are not alone, but it is a serious concern for those who must work with clearances.
Have you experienced substance abuse issues since leaving the military that might affect your ability to qualify for a clearance?
This is another area that can be complicated for some. A third and very common issue that can get in the way of a security clearance job after military service? Those who experience trouble with their credit post-military. These areas are all put under scrutiny in a background investigation.
What Are the Statuses of a Security Clearance?
There are three types of statuses for a security clearance.
- Active – Present job requires use of a security clearance.
- Current – Had a job in the past two years that required use of a clearance.
- Expired – More than two years since that person had a job that required a clearance.
Current, unexpired security clearances are comparatively easy to reinstate and thus in high demand to employers. Expired clearances or more than two years since leaving the military are more difficult to reactivate.
Are There any Other Benefits to a Security Clearance?
Yes! In addition to increased job prospects typically these positions can earn thousands of dollars more than counterpart positions that do not require a security clearance. Finding qualified employees with clearance can be expensive for employers who put a premium as it relates to compensation in order to fill these positions.
What Are the Types of Security Clearances?
- Confidential – Information that reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. Most military personnel are given this basic level of clearance. Reinvestigated every 15 years.
- Secret – Information that reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. Reinvestigated every 10 years.
- Top Secret – Information that reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security if disclosed to unauthorized sources. Reinvestigated every 5 years. These clearances may sometimes be enhanced by other designations including:
Examples of Government Agencies Hiring Security Cleared Professionals
- Air Force Intelligence
- Army Intelligence
- Border Patrol
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Coast Guard Intelligence
- Defense Intelligence Agency
- Department of Defense
- Department of Energy
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Justice
- Department of State
- Department of the Treasury
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
- Marine Corps Intelligence
- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
- National Reconnaissance Office
- National Security Agency
- Navy Intelligence
- Secret Service
- Transportation Security Administration
Examples of Private Companies Hiring Security Cleared Professionals
- Aerospace Corporation
- Bechtel Corporation
- Fluor Corporation
- General Dynamics
- General Electric
- General Motors
- Hewlett-Packard Co.
- Honeywell International Inc.
- Jacobs Engineering Group
- Martin Marietta
- McDonnel Douglas
- United Technologies
Examples of Jobs that Require a Security Clearance
- Administrative Assistant
- Business Analyst
- Business Development
- Cost Estimator
- Counterintelligence Analyst
- Customer Service Specialist
- Cyber Security
- Engineering Technician
- Executive Assistant
- Financial Analyst
- Foreign Language Interpreter
- Foreign Language Translator
- Fusion Analyst
- Intelligence Analyst
- Logistics Analyst
- Network Engineer
- Pricing Manager
- Program Analyst
- Project Manager
- Radar Analyst
- Sales Manager
- Security Analyst
- Security Officer
- Sign Language Interpreter
- Software Developer
- Software Engineer
- System Administrator
- Systems Engineer
- Technical Writer
- Transportation Security Inspector
- Web Developer
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News