National security careers are very different than most positions. The standard apply-interview-accept process still applies. But you layer an entirely separate security clearance application-investigation-adjudication process on top. The first step you take is filling out the SF86.

After submitting your application, you’ll wait anywhere from 6 months to two years for a final clearance determination. The good news is you may be able to obtain an interim clearance in as little as 30 days, which allows you to get to work while waiting for your final clearance.

When your clearance is granted, you’ll likely need to sign a confidentiality form and receive security training. That briefing should be tailored to the agency and organization you’re working for and the sensitivity of information. Pay careful attention to all security briefings. They seem mundane, but they set the stage for a successful security clearance career. Increased focus today is on the ‘trusted workforce’ with access to the nation’s secrets. Insider threat training is conducted annually. at a minimum. Both the government and defense contractors are still building and enhancing these programs, so cleared workers shold stay in touch with their security officers to ensure compliance.


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer