The map of Virginia is a dream for cleared veterans looking for second careers.   East to west, north to south, all roads lead to employment opportunities in which a clearance is increasingly a requirement.  From private to public sector jobs, contractors and the government, Virginia’s job market offers a steady hiring trend and better yet, the highest salaries in the nation.

Fairfax County

The county is one huge expanse in Northern Virginia, made up of lots of smaller places: Fairfax City, Reston, Springfield, Fort Belvoir, Chantilly, Burke, McLean, and the list goes on.  This region continues to rank among the top 10 places for a TS/SCI clearance, due to both the federal job market and the defense industry.  Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC are both headquartered in Fairfax County, but other big names include General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.  The county is heavy with the need for cleared personnel in aerospace, engineering, research and development and homeland security.

Currently, jobs in big demand include applications and database developers, programmers and software engineers.  There’s also growing opportunity for cleared financial experts at Deloitte Services, while Parsons in Centreville has a long list of opportunities for engineers.

Salaries are high.  Cleared personnel earn around six figure salaries.  But keep in mind that the northern part of the state has a higher cost of living.  It’s common to find a 1,400 sq. ft. townhouse on the market for $275,000.

Norfolk/Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach

Along Virginia’s southern coastline, cleared career opportunities extend across military installations in all branches.  The region’s defense hubs include Naval Air Station Oceana, Training Support Center Hampton Roads, Joint Expeditionary Base East, the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and Joint Base Langley-Eustis.   Federal job opportunities run the gamut, with industrial positions in mechanics, logistics and equipment operation. These jobs generally pay between $50,000 and $60,000.  But demand is equally high for program and contract managers and every kind of technical job, with salaries ranging from $85,000 to six figures and above.

It’s the same story in the defense sector.  Currently, Landmark Technology in Hampton Roads has multiple openings requiring clearances, while Bosch and Centurum, Inc. are both looking for cleared electronic and equipment technicians. As for opportunity in sheer numbers, Northrop Grumman has everyone beat.  At present, the company is looking for communication systems engineers, information assurance analysts and project managers, offering salaries that are generally higher than equivalent federal jobs.  Most of the top 10 defense contractors are present in the region, but the region has dozens more in all sizes.


Both a city and county, Arlington is like a brand in itself, with notable satellites that include Rosslyn and Ballston.  Rosslyn’s office space is massive and hosts a number of defense contractors, BAE Systems being the largest.  Ballston is Virginia’s technology job hub, also home to CACI, Office of Naval Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. Other notable Arlington-based organizations; DRS Technologies, Digital Management, Inc. and the Army’s Information Technology Agency.

Arlington, by its nature, is an indoor city; meaning there are fewer jobs related to defense manufacturing and equipment, and more related to IT, contracts and management. The Pentagon sits on the city’s border and Washington, D.C. is just across the bridge, tying in to more great careers in which a clearance is at a premium. The average salary in Arlington is now more than $100,000.

Loudoun County

This spot is only getting better for cleared veterans.  Federal employers include the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.  Major private sector employers include Orbital Sciences Corporation, Raytheon Technical Services, NIITEK, CACI, Prototype Productions and Intelligent Decisions, Inc.

Loudoun County, which includes Leesburg and Middleburg, now beats all other counties when it comes to the highest median household income; close to $150,000.  Software and systems developers are earning about $116,000, while engineers and experienced IT professionals can earn that and more.  According to the county’s Office of Economic Development, the region is number one on the list of top U.S. locations for job creation, and has 17 companies on the list of INC’s fastest growing private companies.


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Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: