The ClearanceJobs Blog is an excellent forum to get opinions from background investigators and other security cleared personnel. One field investigator is looking to start their next challenge and is seeking advice on the transition:

‘I hear a lot of former FI [field investigators] talking about moving on. Where do you transition to that this background is utilized? The best thing about this job is the travel and the self-made schedule. Are you finding other careers with those traits?’

Background checks are not simple. While there is indeed a lot of information that can be found online there is a continuing need to pound the pavement.  This kind of work requires going out and knocking on doors, interviewing subjects and personally verifying key details.

In 2018, there were 8,100 individuals who conducted field investigative activities in support of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB). With the transition from NBIB to the new Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, there have been changes in the workload, particularly for contract background investigators.

One individual on the blog writes “…on Monday I’m interviewing a cab driver in a poor neighborhood who is a RESI and then on Tuesday I’m interviewing the U.S. attorney. We must write – clearly, concisely, and at great volume. Most of us work from home and need enormous self-discipline and self-direction. We’re comfortable in tough situations (“tell me about the DUI you omitted”). We know how to get into buildings and get past obstacles. We play 4-D chess in our brains during ESIs as we develop new info and think about what questions need to be asked and additional fieldwork scheduled. And so much more.”

The question of what’s next can be daunting, but thinking about your skills as a field investigator (including listing out a typical day as the contributor above did) should be the first step. What transferable skills do you have for your next career move, and what roles can do those relate to?

Recruiter / Sourcer

Why put yourself in a box? You’ve worked with individuals hoping to obtain a security clearance, so why not work in an environment where you’re placing folks with an active clearance? You’re a natural sleuth, and recruiters are just that. This where the self-made schedule can come in handy (most employers allow for recruiters to work remotely at least a few days a week) and you’re always traveling to where candidates are at the next job fair.

Duties include:

  • Interacting with potential candidates on social media and professional networks
  • Crafting and sending emails
  • Identifying qualified candidate profiles using various sourcing techniques (e.g Boolean search)
  • Developing talent pipelines for future hiring needs and asking for referrals from current employees and external networks

Police Services Specialist

Local government is a totally different arena, but your investigative nature could be put to good use. Law enforcement runs “Outstanding Arrest Warrant Checks” as appropriate and locates the actual warrant, including contacting other agencies. Other duties include:

  • Assisting the division, other public officials, and citizens with reports, records, and information as appropriate
  • Interpreting and relaying “calls for service” information from citizens via telephone or in person to the 911 (EOC) Communications Officer
  • Preparing file of latest information for handling

Information Technology

As we’ve said before, IT is one of the highest jobs in demand in defense. Another commenter talked about going back to school or getting lower level IT certifications to get their foot in the door. A great way to reskill is by studying up and taking the A+, Net+, or Sec+ exam. There are some great Cybersurity training site, recommended by ClearanceJobs. Check out all of the junior IT openings listed on our site.

This is another role where you can work remotely, but the self made schedule wont work here. You need to be ‘on’ any time an IT issue arises.


In personnel security, people maintain JPAS accounts, manage reports of violations, infractions, and derogatory information. You’ve done the first step of field investigating individuals obtaining a clearance, so it is a different perspective but a natural next step. Other duties include:

  • Making recommendations of appropriate actions to be taken if individual is involved in an incident/offense which is considered derogatory in nature
  • Reviewing and processing requests for investigations, security clearances using eQIP (Electronic Questionnaires for Investigation Processing) or manual system.
  • Performing a preliminary check of available databases and determining current clearance and access levels and the possibility of unfavorable information.
  • Preparing metrics/status reports every 60 days on investigations, annual reporting requirements, polygraphs, and other elements of the Personnel Security Program managed in a centralized internal database.
  • Maintaining classified holdings IAW DoD Information Security (INFOSEC) standards for marking and handling.

The final point is to be creative. Think about what you’ve accomplished and the skills you’ve gained. Then convince the next employer you’re applying to about why those skills matter and will support their mission.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸