IT Job Security Clearance | Industry Trends

Everything you always wanted to know about IT jobs with security clearance (including sponsorship) but were too afraid to ask…

What do agents, members of the security services and system engineers have in common? All of these jobs often require a security clearance. Just like network engineers, software architects and even programmers.

The number of IT jobs that require approval may surprise you. Often it is not the job itself, but the organization that you hire for the job. Database administrators who work for the military, for example, need permission. Database administrators who work for private companies may not. Most government agencies, being super paranoid about national security, need approval before you can even move a seat at the IT desk.

One thing is certain: more IT roles require authorization than ever before. Nine percent of all job openings require approval and 50 percent of these positions are in the digital technology sector. A growing number of organizations require candidates to have consent before apply for the role, but it’s not clear how many applicants do.

Recently, in our Meet the Mentor webinar series, we spoke with senior cybersecurity engineer Dereck Watters, who gave us valuable insights into the top-secret world of security clearance.

In this guide you will discover:

  • What kind of jobs require approval.
  • The four different levels of eviction.
  • How to get your endorsement sponsored.
  • The different ways to get permission.
  • How to pass an approval.
  • Other insights from cybersecurity expert Dereck Watters.

Let’s clear up some things about clearance

A security clearance is not something you can pay for. Or study for. You have to earn it, the hard way. Think of it as a badge of honor. A medal that proves that you can protect classified information. You are a true ‘keeper of secrets’. Someone who won’t tell, no matter what.

There is a huge shortage of people who have the technical capabilities to carry out an eviction job. But Watters tells us that once you get permission, you get life.

“You’re pretty much sure of a job,” he says. “Put your resume on Indeed and a thousand people will call you.”

Because there is such a small pool of applicants with the required approvals for some jobs, employers are willing to pay a lot of money.

“Once you get that under your name, you’re pretty much guaranteed a position in the Department of Defense, the Navy, or the Air Force.”

The federal government considers eviction a prerequisite for most jobs protecting national security. So many government agencies have been fired in recent years — data breaches like those at the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Energy, and Department of Veterans Affairs have become commonplace — so now candidates need the right security credentials to unlock the nation’s biggest secrets. keep .

It is important to note that there is not just one type of security clearance, but four:

  • Confidential: For people who could harm national security if sensitive information is disclosed without permission.
  • Secret: For people who could seriously damage national security if sensitive information is released without permission.
  • Top Secret: For people who could cause exceptionally serious harm to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without permission.
  • Sensitive compartmentalized information: For people who have access to information about sensitive intelligence sources, methods or analytical processes.

Once you get permission, you’re good for 15 years (10 years for secret permission; five years for top secret permission). This means that in most cases you will not have to request permission again for ten years or more.

There are a whole host of jobs that require some sort of approval, especially in government. Even if your position has nothing to do with national security — “I’m just a software engineer,” you say — some agencies still need permission and there’s not much you can do about it.

Some authorities that need permission:

  • Central Intelligence Service
  • Defense Intelligence Service
  • Defense Security Service
  • Department of Defense
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Security Service
  • Naval Criminal Investigation Service
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • United States Agency for International Development

Recommended reading: Why now is a good time to consider a new career in cybersecurity

How to get your consent sponsored

Unfortunately, customs clearance costs money – a lot. It costs between $3,000 and $15,000 to get top secret permissions; however, the FBI will sometimes cover the costs for civil servants and military personnel of the civil government. This is called ‘sponsorship’. The good news: Once you get government approval, you can use it for any job that requires it — yes, even private companies.

Watters tells us there are four ways to get your endorsement sponsored:

  • Army
  • High school
  • part-time job
  • contracts


This is the easiest way. Visit the nearest military processing center and choose a military occupation code (MOS) that requires permission. You can apply for this profession and the government will sponsor your endorsement. It’s that simple. Make sure you are fit and healthy and that you have the correct scores for the role.

“You don’t have to do active military service,” Watters says. “You could do the reserves if you don’t have much time. Or even the National Guard.”

High school

Many colleges have government sponsored programs that pay for studies and security clearance. Sure, you’ll have to work for the government for a few years when you graduate (or pay a fee), but this can be a quick way to get clearance if you don’t have the money.

“Essentially, if you go for a STEM tech degree, whether in cybersecurity, systems engineering, or electrical engineering, they pay for your school and sponsor you for your permission,” Watters says. “This is a quick way to get into a government position without donning the uniform.”

Warning: There are specific time slots for when you can apply for these programs, so plan ahead.

part-time job

There are jobs that will sponsor your endorsement, but they won’t always be in IT. You can apply for a security job or a similar position and get sponsorship. Just look at Monster. Or USA Jobs.

“You could do this part-time,” adds Watters. “This gives you flexibility and you get your consent.”


Watters recommends looking at how contracts for government contractors are written:

“When the government is looking for a network engineer, some of the requirements are kind of weird. They probably want you to have a CCNA, but they may also ask for a Microsoft server certificate.”

It seems like an all-encompassing story, but once you get to the interview stage, it’s a different story:

“If you can tick some of those boxes — not all of them, but some — they might actually like you and start the paperwork and approval process. They’ll put the contract on hold until you get through the approval. interviewing you are not actually the people writing the contract.”

Recommended reading: From IT administrator to network engineer, watch our interview with Chris Mickinnis here

Pass approval

Now comes the scary part. You might think there are skeletons in your closet, but your past isn’t always a big deal.

“We all have things in our past that we probably aren’t too proud of, but organizations are just looking for the things you’re trying to keep a secret from them,” Watters said. “Listen, most people think they’re going to be disqualified for smoking when they were 19. Detectives don’t worry about that. What they’re really concerned about is whether you’re a person who can be trusted with classified documents. ‘

The same goes for debts:

“They’re not looking for 800 credit scores. They are looking for someone who is reliable.”

A $50,000 debt in Guatemala that you didn’t mention in your application? Possible red flag. A $4,000 Debt for a Best Buy TV? No problem.

“It’s hard to get people through the security clearance process because you need patience and the honesty and integrity to get it all on paper. They will cycle through your life.”

How long does it take?

How long is a string? Government job releases can take 3 to 6 months (and 6 to 18 months for a top-secret approval), and this process starts the moment you submit your standard Form 86 — the document the government uses to “go through your life.” .”

Once you’ve filed Form 86, Human Resources will submit your information to the State Department’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability, and this is where everything comes into play. Things will move quickly at first.

  • Someone performs a National Agency Check (NAC). It’s like a criminal record and credit check in one, with searches related to your hometown, work and educational locations over the past 7 years.
  • Someone will scan your fingerprints.
  • Someone will search the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s research index.

Then you hear nothing for weeks. Maybe months. Finally, a case manager is assigned to your case and you are invited for an interview. This can be tough. The investigator will verify all the information you provided in your Form 86. Be prepared to answer questions, lots of questions.

Where did you work? Where did you live? Where did you go to school?

What do your parents do for work? Where did your parents live? Where did your parents go to school?

Investigators can verify this information with law enforcement agencies, employers, and even school principals. No stone left unturned.

It is an exhausting process.

“Look, if you can explain your background, they’ll be okay with that,” Watters says. “As long as you can explain why you have so much money, or why your wife is from there or your husband is from there, it’s fine.”

After your interview, the researcher will weigh your results against security clearance guidelines. You will receive a notification of your results in the email.

Now you play the waiting game.

Ask a security expert

In our Meet the Mentor webinar with Derick Watters, our students had some questions of their own about the security clearance…

How does a veteran get inside information about Defense Ministry contracts?

“The biggest one is definitely word of mouth. If you see someone on LinkedIn, just talk to them. Ask about open vacancies. Ask about the eviction. Ask for sponsorship.”

What Happens at the End of Federal Contracts?

“When the contract expires, they have to let you know. They should discuss this with you in advance during the interview. Of course you have to look for another position when the contract expires, but they need people with such bad admission that they will often keep you.”

What is the hardest part about the customs clearance process?

“I have to be checked every 5 years. You know, sit down with someone to explain why I bought a new house or a new car. I need to write down my wife’s name so she can be checked. Tell them about my relatives. You have to get used to giving up a little bit of your privacy.”

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