How To Obtain A Security Clearance For A Job With The Federal Government

25 March 2016
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Federal government jobs are very attractive because many pay more than jobs in the private sector. These kinds of jobs also offer attractive retirement benefits and health insurance. However, many jobs with the federal government are known as clearance jobs. This means you need a security clearance to apply. Read on to learn more about security clearance and how to obtain it.

What Is A Security Clearance and Why Do You Need It?

A security clearance confirms an applicant's reliability and trustworthiness before giving the person access to national security information. The three basic levels of security classification are confidential, secret, and top secret.

The confidential level means having access to information that could cause damage to national security; most government employees have access to this level, and it takes a few weeks to a few months for clearance approval. They are re-evaluated every 15 years once they have their position.

The secret level means you have access to information that could cause significant damage to national security. The top secret level means having access to information that could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. The upper security echelons can take months to a year and a half for applications to go through, and these positions must be re-evaluated about every 5 years.

Many jobs in the federal government give you access to classified documents and require you to work in government-secured facilities. If the wrong person gets in this position, then he or she could cause harm to national security.

How Do You Get One?

You cannot get a security clearance without help. It must be obtained from a prospective or current employer. Approving someone for a security clearance can be a time-consuming process. For this reason, most employers will not do one unless it is absolutely necessary.

The approval process can vary depending on the government agency. It is also tweaked from time to time depending on the current threats. Here's how the approval process typically works.

You have to complete an application. This involves fingerprinting, verifying US citizenship, and completing the Personnel Security Questionnaire

This information is passed on to the Defense Security Service. This department does the background checks and will conduct a thorough one on you.

The adjudication phase is when the findings are reviewed from the background check. The findings are evaluated by the Department of Defense. This department evaluates your information based on factors like criminal behavior and mental state. After this phase, you are either approved or denied for a security clearance.

If you want to get approved, then you must prepare for a very thorough interviewing process. The federal government can be very intrusive when trying to get clearance. It helps to know what to expect when applying for clearance jobs.