As part of Clearance Jobs’ ongoing series examining unexpected defense contractors, we’ve looked at a company run by the real life Tony Stark; the people who make Roomba (the only vacuum cleaner born on the battlefield); and a corporation known for Android but less so for their actual killer death robots. These businesses are interesting in their own right, but are especially important to you, the clearance-holding job hunter, because they represent a hidden job market lush with the kinds of opportunities more associated with nimble dot-com startups than the “traditional” defense industry. And in this market you have the upper hand. Consider that the U.S. Air Force is taking rival bids to put spy satellites in orbit—something they haven’t done in over a decade. SpaceX desperately wants in on that action, but to put hands on hardware from the National Reconnaissance Office, potential employees will need more than a confident wave and a clipboard—what they’ll need is a security clearance.

The Amazon Rainmakers

Amazon’s mission, according to its corporate page, is to be “earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” Behind the “world’s largest bookstore” is one of the most powerful computer networks in the world. But a network is only as good as its IT people, and Amazon is looking for leaders. As stated on a job listing they posted here at Clearance Jobs, Amazon needs someone “to build a team of disciplined IT engineers” in a role that “oversees deployment, configuration, and management of core IT services, including directory services, file and print, DNS/DHCP, application servers and management of server hardware and infrastructure.” As far as IT managerial gigs go, the demands are pretty much by-the-numbers. What makes this job posting special? “This position requires the applicant selected to obtain and maintain a Top Secret security clearance with Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) eligibility and access. A US Government administered polygraph examination will be required.” They’re hiring a veritable army of cleared network engineers and software developers from sea to sea—Washington state to Washington, D.C. Something tells me you’ll be doing more than selling books. [A list of Amazon jobs requiring a clearance can be found here.]

The Big Blue Chef

IBM has a long history in the defense game. Their tabulation equipment was used extensively in the 1930s and 40s, and their hardware helped put men on the moon. During World War II, they even built rifles. And though they’ve been around for a while, they still innovate in areas nobody ever thought possible. Their supercomputers famously defeated the strongest chess grandmaster of the time, and later, the best Jeopardy players. Today IBM supercomputers are transforming cancer treatments by processing raw to discover new treatment regimens. Their computer have even been installed at the Institute of Culinary Education, where its algorithms are crunching the flavors of foods to discover new combinations. (Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche, anyone?) According to the institute’s director of culinary development, from the computer’s unorthodox recipes, “We haven’t come across an instance yet where something didn’t taste good.”

With such breadth of purpose, you would be hard pressed to find a career field or region in which they aren’t hiring. As posted on their Clearance Jobs company profile, IBM is can be very lenient on hiring requirements—a GED, job experience, and a clearance are often all you need to get your foot in the door. Among their job listings for cleared professionals are calls for IT Specialists in Hawaii with an active Secret clearance; an Infrastructure Delivery Manager in Colorado (active secret); and a Transition Manager in Washington, D.C., whose job it will be to “transfer responsibility and application management services work activities from the client to IBM during the initial stages” of a contract. [A list of IBM jobs requiring a clearance can be found here.]

The Most Interesting Antivirus Company in the World

John McAfee is so far and away the most interesting man in the world that second place is but a tiny dot in the rearview mirror. Wired reported that while he is known for his antivirus software, he also “spent years as a cocaine addict, spiritual guru and yoga expert. In 2009, after losing millions in the stock market crash, he decided to retire to the tiny Central American nation of Belize. That’s when things really got weird.” (Most of the details are both exciting and unprintable on a family website.) While he no longer runs McAfee, some of his international fugitive vibe must surely course through the company’s culture and make it a pretty cool place to work. At present, according to the McAfee profile on Clearance Jobs, the company is actively seeking and hiring Account Managers. While the listing doesn’t mention anything about experience illegally sneaking into South American countries or a required proficiency in faking heart attacks to duck authorities in foreign nations, I’m pretty sure that skill set is just a given.

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David Brown is a regular contributor to ClearanceJobs. His most recent book, THE MISSION (Custom House, 2021), is now available in bookstores everywhere. He can be found online at https://www.dwb.io.