The 2020 ClearanceJobs Compensation Survey asked cleared candidates state by state about their pay – for all clearance levels and polygraph statuses. Each report provides a breakdown of salaries in states with the largest cleared workforces.

With defense and aerospace hubs distributed across the country, both candidates and recruiters have a need to understand the challenges and benefits faced in different locations. While some locations are a magnet for top talent, cost of living challenges affect how far the salary dollars go. For example, salaries might be the highest in the D.C. metro, but its residents are well aware of the housing and commute decisions that factor into life around the beltway.

Each report covers key compensation details for its geographic location.

  • Total Compensation by State vs. Rest of the Country
  • Compensation by Clearance Level
  • Salaries by Year with Current Employer
  • Compensation by Career Level
  • Satisfaction with Job and Salary
  • Likelihood to Change Job, Employer, or Leave the Cleared Industry
  • Top Cleared Jobs in the State

All these topics and more can be found in these thorough survey summaries. See how your state stacks up in the reports below.

Home of Rocket City Gets an 11% Compensation Boost

Today, Alabama is home to more than 300 companies, including industry giants such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, Raytheon, and GKN Aerospace. But like most other states across the nation, it’s a struggle to find enough cleared talent.


Risk Taking and Forward Thinking Rewarded in California Salaries

When it comes to doing cutting-edge work and getting paid well to do it, California is still king. The state boasts nearly 8 million jobs that support the national security industry. With the country’s highest number of engineers, three NASA research centers, and two out of the top three universities for aerospace engineering, California is dedicated to making an impact.


Colorado Compensates Well and Everyone Wants to Stay

While military missions may attract many to the state, its quality of life prompts them to stay. The state is a top destination for transitioning veterans, and 8.7% of the state’s residents are veterans. Colorado is the fifth highest-paying state for cleared professionals, behind D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and California.


Compensation Just Keeps Up with the Cost of Living in the Nation’s Capital

The state and federal government dominate D.C. when it comes to cleared employers. Government employees lead in the Washington, D.C. employment pool, with 26% of respondents in the ClearanceJobs compensation survey working directly for Uncle Sam, versus 13% in the rest of the country. D.C. boasts high pay for a highly educated workforce. More than a quarter of D.C. workers have advanced degrees, compared to 13% in the rest of the country.


Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Clouds for Cleared Workers in Florida

Most individuals probably don’t move to Florida for the compensation alone—it’s the missions and the sunshine. Florida is a defense industry epicenter with more than 20 military installations and three unified combatant commands. Florida is also home to the Space Coast, Kennedy Space Center, and 663 miles of beaches.


Cleared Opportunities Are High in Maryland – Along with the Cost of Living

Maryland is home to more than 60 federal agencies and 20 military installations, including the National Security Agency. Aerospace employment also soars in Maryland, with 15 of the country’s top 20 aerospace companies located in the state. With a variety of commercial and government employers in industries from research and development to unmanned systems, Maryland is a state of career opportunity.


Cleared Jobs Continue to Take Off in Texas

Texas is the second largest state in the country in size, boasts the second largest population, and is the second largest economy. Texas has 18 active military installations and a number of defense sector hubs, including Austin’s Silicon Hills, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston. Cleared compensation in Texas remains competitive, particularly considering the lower cost of living.


Defense Hubs in Virginia Continue to Grow and attract Top Talent

Virginia’s cleared professionals boast the highest average total compensation in the country. When it comes to cleared job opportunities, Virginia opportunities continue to skyrocket, and competition for top talent is fierce. Virginia is home to more than 274 aerospace companies, and Amazon’s HQ2 office is Crystal City’s newest resident. Major defense contractors are increasingly making Virginia home, whether their focus is cybersecurity and the cloud or satellites and software.



This survey was administered online between October 18, 2019 and February 3, 2020. Participants had to have a current, active federal security clearance and be currently employed to be included in the results, which included 24,249 usable responses. 

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.