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How To Get a Security Clearance

You can’t just apply for a security clearance. Applying for a clearance requires that you’re working for a government approved contractor, holding political office, or working with some kind of government approved entity. To even apply requires that organization to sponsor you. There are no individual applications for a security clearance.

  • Only U.S. citizens are eligible for a security clearance, unless there are special circumstances.

Investigation Process

All applicants go under a thorough evaluation to determine if they’re loyal to the U.S. government and free from foreign influence, are honest, trustworthy, morally upright, and mentally and psychologically sound, and have no criminal history.

The process starts with the Personnel Security Questionnaire through the e-QIP website. Next is an investigation by  the government’s Office of Personnel Management, the Defense Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or another investigation service provider (ISP), depending on the position.

Agent investigating your application will interview your contacts, including current and past employers, neighbors, business associates, former classmates, college club members, and others that you have known.  You will be interviewed and re-interviewed as the information is gathered to clarify any potential issues that could affect it.  Any discrepancies uncovered in the investigation may be grounds for disqualification. The average length of the entire investigation can vary based on the position and clearance requested, but is approximately 120 days.

Statuses in the Review Process

Received: The Investigative service provider has acknowledged receipt of the investigation and will be reviewing it

Unacceptable- The ISP decided that the investigation request is deficient. You will receive a message with the reason why your clearance was rejected. If you still need one, a new investigation will have to be submitted.

Scheduled: The ISP has determined that your investigation request to be acceptable and the investigation is ongoing.

Closed: The ISP has completed the investigation and it has been sent for adjudication.

Kinds of Clearance

Top Secret is applied to information that if it was disclosed to unauthorized sources, could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. This level is re-investigated every five years.

Secret clearance is applied to any information that could cause serious damage to national security if disclosed to the unauthorized sources. This level is investigated every 10 years.

Confidential is the least damaging, with just “could cause damage to national security” and is investigated every 15 years.

Clearance re-investigations are more important than the original investigation because those people who  have had those clearances longer are more likely to be working with increasingly critical information.

For military security clearance, it’s depends on your job and your assignment. In some cases, the job itself might not require a security clearance, but the location or the unit does.

The DoD (Department of Defense) operates it’s security program separate from other government agencies, with it’s own procedures. This means that security clearances from other government agencies would not necessarily transfer to the DoD.

Are you looking for your next job?

For more advice on how to get clearances and skills you need to succeed as a contractor, connect with the team at USPRO and explore the available opportunities.