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"Top Secret" Jobs Continue to Grow - Security Clearance in 3 Steps

Updated on March 12, 2015
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Keith Schroeder writes The Wealthy Accountant blog with 30 years experience in the tax field. He is the tax adviser of Mr. Money Mustache.

A high paying job with a full range of benefits is welcome in any economic environment. Twenty-First Century security issues make Top Secret jobs, jobs that require security clearance, one of the fastest growing areas of the job market.

Most adults qualify for at least some Top Secret jobs. Anyone that will handle classified information is required to have security clearance. Not all jobs requiring security clearance are with the government. Many Top Secret jobs are with contractors that work for the government.

You cannot get security clearance until you work for the government or a contractor for the government where you will handle classified material. This makes Top Secret jobs easier to get as most people without security clearance never apply. Once hired, the application for security clearance is started.

The largest source people with security clearance are members of the military. About 200,000 military personnel become available each year for top secret jobs. However, 2.5 million - 3 million jobs require security clearance and about a third work in private industry.

Security clearance is valuable to employees because it adds $5,000 to $15,000 per year to their income. Even janitors that work in sensitive areas need security clearance and enjoy the higher pay scale and benefits. Former military personnel with security clearance are highly sought after by employers. This group fills only a portion of the Top Secret jobs available.


3 Types of Security Clearance

Security clearance is really a license from the federal government to review certain information. Most clearance requires a background check and investigation. A criminal record does not automatically disqualify you. Recent criminal activity and most felonies work against you. If you are convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than a year in jail you will not qualify.

Confidential: This is the lowest level of security clearance. Most military personnel have confidential clearance. After the initial investigation, a reinvestigation takes place within 15 years. Reinvestigations are more intensive because as time passes and trust grows, material with greater sensitivity will be viewed.

Secret: This classification is reinvestigated within 10 years. Secret information is expected to cause serious harm to the United States if revealed.

Top Secret: Exact numbers are unknown, but around 800,000 people have Top Secret clearance. The information handled by this level of clearance could cause grave danger if revealed. “Grave” meaning people could die. Reinvestigations take place every 5 years with ongoing monitoring.

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How to Get Security Clearance

Getting Top Secret security clearance can take a year or more and rarely less than six months. Confidential and Secret clearance may be completed in less than six months. There are currently about 500,000 investigations for security clearance now active. Former military personnel have an advantage since they already have at least Confidential clearance.

Step 1: You start by filling out the Personnel Security Questionnaire, verifying your citizenship, and providing fingerprints. Once the application is started you have 14 days to complete it. The application is involved and it pays to plan ahead by gathering most of the information in advance. Your employer can help you with this process.

Step 2: Once the application is filed, citizenship is verified, and fingerprints received, the investigation begins. An important part of the investigation is the face to face interview. Honesty is a must. If you lie, you will not receive any security clearance.

Step 3: The last step is called the adjudication phase. The results of the investigation are reviewed using 13 factors listed by the Department of Defense. Once Step 3 is completed, clearance is either granted or denied.

Lie Detector Test Required

A polygraph test is required in the investigation of all applicants. You cannot be denied clearance based solely on a polygraph result with a few exceptions. The use of techniques to fool the polygraph is monitored.

Fun Fact

One in thirty Americans have some level of security clearance.

Top 20 Non-government Security Clearance Employers

1.Lockheed Martin

2.BAE Systems

3.Northrop Grumman


5.General Dynamics




9.L-3 Communications

10.United Technologies






16.Booz Allen Hamilton






Best Place to Find a Top Secret Job

Where to find Top Secret Jobs

Jobs requiring security clearance are available in most areas of the country. Heavy concentration of these jobs are in Florida, Texas, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C.

Finding Top Secret jobs is easy as they are listed on under Top Secret. You can enjoy the humor in this later. There are several online firms that will help you get a job requiring security clearance. You can start your search with,, and

Nearly every profession is covered. The government and contractors need accountants, engineers, general laborers, janitors, and more. Big benefits of security clearance are higher pay and job security. It is hard to send Top Secret jobs to China and fewer applicants apply.

Security clearance is a valuable asset. Once acquired, you must work hard to keep your clearance. Illegal drug use or any other criminal activity is a fast way to lose your advantage and clearance.

Top Reason Applicants are Denied Security Clearance

Sources: (This webpage is no longer active.)


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    • profile image

      User 2 years ago

      Actually Melissa, a polygraph is not required to get Top Secret. Only for certain positions. That is why it is usually specified TS w/ Poly.

    • Melissa McClain profile image

      Melissa McClain 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      A very well-done hub. I would only add that a polygraph is required only for those seeking a Top Secret clearance.

    • ucman profile image

      ucman 6 years ago from lagos nigeria

      this hub was really helpful and thank you so much.