How to Obtain Security Clearance

With unemployment at levels we haven’t seen in decades, many people are looking for new or better job. Many government jobs that require a security clearance pay very well and have long term employment. If a career in that field interests you, you may want to know how to obtain a security clearance so you can begin to apply for those types of jobs.

Jobs that require you to be in contact with classified government documents or materials or working in a secured facility require a security clearance. This would include positions such as computer systems employees, secretaries and even guards.

It is a bit of a lengthy process to get a security clearance and there are different levels as well. A person can’t just go and apply for one. The government employer has to request one and it is somewhat expensive to do the background checks that will be required. You are issued a security clearance from the federal government, and there are three basic levels that can be issued depending on what type of job you will be performing.

The first level of security clearance for a government job is called Confidential. This means that you will be cleared to have access to some confidential materials, documents and locations that won’t be devastating if disclosed. This is a basic security clearance and you’ll have to have it approved again once every fifteen years.

The next level is a bit more intense and is called Secret. At this level, you would have access to important documents that could cause serious damage and security implications if in the wrong hands. To keep your Secret security clearance level, you will be reviewed every ten years.

The highest security level clearance is called Top Secret. This is the most difficult level to obtain, and you will have access to government information that very few are allowed to have. It would be considered a threat to national security if someone with Top Secret clearance divulged information. For this classification you will be investigated and cleared once every five years.

So what does it take to obtain a security clearance? The time involved is probably longer than you think and may take two years. According to the Department of Defense, at any one time there are about 500,000 people waiting to be approved or unapproved for a security clearance.

The process involved in being interviewed and investigated for a security clearance will usually start with a few basic steps then get more involved and complicated. There will be an extensive background check. You have to be fingerprinted and verified that you are a U.S. citizen. You will also have to fill out many forms, including signing a release basically stating that the Defense Security Service can investigate and have access to all aspects and people in your life. They will check out any criminal records, finances, job history, medical records and any history of possible mental problems or drug and alcohol use. There are 13 factors they focus on, include those just mentioned.

Factors that will automatically knock you out of the running for a security clearance include being convicted of a crime and spending more than a year in jail, having a drug abuse problem, a diagnosed mental problem or had a dishonorable military discharge.

It will also complicate the process if you have spent a lot of time in other countries or have relatives living in other countries. This apparently gives the appearance of having more external foreign contacts than the government would like.

Obtaining a security clearance can be time consuming, somewhat invasive and a challenge. But the many different jobs that the clearance can open up for you not only pay well, they can lead to exciting and interesting careers.


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