Security Clearance on the Rise

Airman processing security clearance

As a servicemember or veteran, you have an inside track to getting security clearance, which gives you a leg up on federal jobs — and it's an advantage that more and more employees are utilizing, based on a new intelligence community report to Congress.

According to the report, as of October 1, 2010, there were 4,266,091 cleared persons (see Report on Security Clearance Determinations for Fiscal Year 2010 from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) — which is almost 2 million more than the Government Accountability Office estimated in 2009. Breaking down the numbers, in October 2010, 1,419,051 federal employees and contractors holding Top Secret clearances.

Related: Search for Security Clearance jobs.

In case you were wondering, the highest number of federal employees and contractors with security clearance dates back to 1983, according to Secrecy News. There were approximately 4.2 million clearances, according to 1985 testimony (pdf) from the GAO.  "The unexpectedly large number of security clearances today can presumably be attributed to several related factors:  the surge in military and intelligence spending over the past decade, increased government reliance on cleared contractors, and intensive classification activity that continues today," says Secrect News. The Washington Post also notes that current clearance numbers are just shy of  the entire population of the Washington, DC, area.

What does this unexpected news mean for servicemembers and veterans? With so many employees already possessing security clearance, there may be a "clampdown" on new clearances moving forward, which means that maintaining your security clearance is as important as ever. Be sure you're on top of your clearance (and make sure to get it back if it's lapsed) — follow the guides in the Security Clearance Center.

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