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The Security Clearance Advantage

Information Protection Directorate officials process between 650 and 700 cadet applications for top-secret clearance annually. (Photo: Mike Kaplan)
Information Protection Directorate officials process between 650 and 700 cadet applications for top-secret clearance annually. (Photo: Mike Kaplan)

One of the most valuable qualifications that a transitioning servicemember can bring to the table is active security clearance. Today, thousands of employers, including defense contractors and government agencies, are in a desperate hunt for cleared individuals. Qualified job seekers will find they have a tremendous advantage over noncleared candidates. Unfortunately, many people let their security clearances lapse. An active clearance is a commodity that must be maintained and managed.

Employers value people with active security clearance since it can take between six months and two years for a person to receive a clearance. In addition, the clearance process often is very expensive.

A government security clearance requires a reinvestigation every 15 years for a “confidential” clearance, every 10 years for “secret,” and every five years for “top secret.” When a clearance becomes inactivate (because the individual switches jobs or leaves the military), it can be fairly easy to reinstate within the first 24 months, as long as that period falls within the reinvestigation window. After that, the task becomes significantly more difficult. In other words, if your clearance is going to lapse, you should consider some options to reactivate it within the first two years.

The easiest way for you to maintain your clearance is to take a “cleared” position with a company or government agency. The job board of the U.S. government, www.USAJobs.com lists more than 2,000 positions requiring some type of clearance.

Another approach for keeping your clearance active is service in the National Guard or Reserve.

Finally, you can turn to specialty staffing companies that assist defense contractors and government agencies to fill temporary and full-time positions with cleared individuals.

Next Step:
If you still hold a clearance or you are still within the two year window, you should take advantage of your highly marketable status. Visit www.military.com/clearance to start looking for your next great opportunity.

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