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Security Clearances

Transitioning to a Civilian Security Clearance

ThinkstockPhotos-541282164PAINTAs a transitioning member of the military or a veteran, you have already navigated the process to obtain a security clearance, including passing background investigations and polygraphs.

Maintaining or upgrading your security clearance as a civilian, however, is somewhat different experience. Depending on the type of clearance and job you are pursuing, the process can involve different standards and procedures, and require prolonged effort and time to complete.

The different types of jobs that require security clearances run the gamut from accounting, construction, engineering and graphic design to information technology, law enforcement, science, analysis, medicine and research. The required level of clearance depends on the agency that employs or contracts the worker. For instance, anyone who works for the National Security Agency (NSA) must have a Top Secret/SCI clearance. That requirement applies to a variety of jobs, including electrical engineers, intelligence analysts, computer science technicians, warehouse workers, human resources professionals and business managers.

An individual's security clearance level can also significantly impact their earnings. Understandably, a higher security clearance, which gives you access to more sensitive information about national security, can result in higher pay. For instance, professionals with Top Secret or Top Secret/SCI clearances earn about $19,000 more than those with Secret clearances, according to the 2017 Security Clearance Jobs Compensation Survey conducted by

Overall, security-cleared professionals are among the top 10 percent of earners in the country. On average, individuals with security clearances make $86,902 annually, which includes salary, overtime, danger pay, and bonuses, according to the survey. Security-cleared professionals in the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Energy posted average salaries exceeding $100,000. Virginia, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and Maryland ranked as the four highest earning states for security-cleared professionals, according to

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