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What is a Security Clearance?


In certain federal or government buildings for the various security agencies, the people that work in them must have some form of security clearance. A Security Clearance depends on the United States government and need to give one to eligible candidates. It states that a person, whether a federal employee or contractor, is eligible for access to either secret or classified national security information. Depending on what is being secured in the facility will also determine the security clearance level of each employee that walks into the building. For example, most federal employees may have access to the first-floor information, yet are banned or not cleared to enter higher floor levels. Where classified data may be put or stored. However, not all federal buildings or federal jobs require something such as a security clearance. 

How Long Do You Have to Wait for a Security Clearance?

For jobs or positions that require a security clearance, employees need to provide several years of personal information or undergo an intensive background check. The average time to receive a security clearance is anywhere from 4 to 12 months. However, this depends on the agency or company you are applying for. Top secret clearance may take longer than normal security clearances. The background process involves verification of US citizenship, criminal and credit history, education and employment history. In addition, requirements of the person’s date of birth, residence, and military service information, if applicable.

What Types of Jobs Require Security Clearances?

Many Military service jobs require a specific type of clearance to do the specific job. For example, Special Operations, Air Defense Artillery, Military Police, and Intelligence require the highest levels of clearance. Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialists may also need high security clearances to protect not only the work they do, yet also to keep unauthorized individuals from entering. 

What are the Levels of Security Clearances?

National Security Clearances offers five levels. Each depends on the type of classified materials accessed in the specific federal building or company. Here are the names of each:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)
  • Counter-Terrorist Check (CTC)
  • Enhanced Baseline Standard (EBS)
  • Security Check (SC)
  • Developed Vetting (DV)

How Much Does a Secret Clearance Cost?

Getting a security clearance for a job may not be cheap. It all depends on a few factors. If you are at a low level of security positions, such as night security, the cost may not be as much. However, for those working with or as a top scientist for the FBI, then its price can be much higher. Depending on the department, federal building, position, and also how valuable you are to the company will determine the cost. Price ranges for security clearance are from several hundred dollars to up to $3,000, in most situations. However, top secret clearances may be more. 

What are Interim Security Clearances?

The Interim Clearance allows applicants to begin working before the background investigation is complete. Interim clearances can be given to candidates who start the background check already due to certain circumstances and the necessity of having a position filled as soon as possible. Interim security clearances is a temporary access to only certain areas in the building or specific departments. Once an employee passes or the time of the interim clearance is over, then the applicant will either receive full clearance or be removed from the area.  

What Factors May Be Considered for Clearances?

The federal government or any government agency can not discriminate on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation

In some security positions, a reinvestigation may occur. Especially if some time has gone by since the first investigation or background check. Many times this is due to updating systems or if the company has hired new employees recently. The agency or company may re-visit key aspects of an employees background, such as address changes, criminal and credit history, and also marital status.

Are Security Clearances Transferable?

Yes, but only in some cases. Some federal agencies may accept another agency’s investigation, provided that it has been less than five years since the last top security clearance and under 10 years since the secret clearance performed. Significant changes in the report or background might need to be re-addressed, or cause for an investigation.  Once the employee leaves the job permanently, however, the security clearance can become null avoid. A new investigation or background check may need to be complete to meet all requirements for a new or different job within the agency or company. 

Related Rankings:

10 Federal Agencies for Security Careers

Top 25 Most Affordable Security Degree Programs

Top 10 Highest-Paying Security Careers


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Securitydegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.