Security Clearance? Where Do I Even Begin?
When applying for specific types of employment, you may be required to obtain certain levels of security clearance to proceed through the interview process. Security clearances are commonly used in specialized industries and governments, and allow the hiring candidate to have access to different levels of classified material.
For individuals looking to obtain security clearance for employment, here is some information to get you started in the right direction.
Different Levels of Security Clearance
When seeking to obtain certain types of security clearance, there are three distinct levels of clearance you should know about – Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.
This clearance is typically the easiest to obtain and can span multiple job types that require the employee to have access to classified documents and procedures.
Secret clearance is required when higher levels of sensitive materials may pass in front of individual staff members. The classification of this type of clearance is relevant when accessible information can potentially cause damage to national security.
Top Secret Clearance
For positions that require the highest level of information security, top secret clearance may be administered. This type of clearance is designed for government jobs where the information available can cause severe damage to national security if leaked.
How to Obtain Security Clearance for Employment
To obtain different levels of security clearance, you must be a U.S. citizen and have avoided criminal activity. After you complete a Personnel Security Questionnaire, you’ll be investigated by an appropriate government source. There may be several stages of the interview process, and security clearance applicants may have friends and family members who are contacted and interviewed as part of the application process. Investigations typically take 3-4 months before your eligibility is confirmed for a specified clearance level.
How Long Does Security Clearance Last
Security clearances are usually designated only for the time when an individual resides in their current job. During this time, a clearance holder can be re-investigated at any time and for any reason. However, formal reviews are held every 5, 10 or 15 years depending on your clearance level.
If you’ve had a security clearance with a past employer, your clearance level can be reactivated as long as the break in employment is less than two years. Keeping your resume up to date with your recent clearance levels and the last time a previous investigation was formalized will help you maintain relevant candidacy as you continue your job search.
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