Life in Alabama is feeling sweet with the average cleared total compensation at $95,853. Alabama not only compensates above the national average, and but it also boasts a low cost of living, making it a prime pick for cleared employees. Growing defense appropriations and the creation of the U.S. Space Force are also good news for Alabama, keeping the state a prime location for cleared candidates.

Space and Defense Missions propel Alabama Forward

Alabama played a critical role in space history, and it continues to carry forward major missions in defense and aerospace. Redstone Arsenal, a secure, 38,000 acre federal campus remains the heart of Rocket City, the affectionate nickname given to Huntsville, AL. With space making a comeback, Alabama salaries are also skyrocketing, with a growth of 11% from 2018 to 2020.

Growth is the name of the game in Alabama, and engineers are poised to take the state there. Aerospace contributes more than 60,000 jobs to the Alabama economy, and brings in billions in economic impact. It’s not just engineering, but research and development that drives Alabama salaries and job growth. Alabama universities are working hard to churn out new talent in everything from cybersecurity and optics to robotics. Research is at home in Rocket City, the site of one of the largest research parks in the U.S., with over 300 companies.

With major defense giants like Boeing making Alabama a leader in the defense and aerospace world, the state is a prime location for cleared candidates to land.

“It’s hard to overstate Boeing’s influence on Alabama’s economy and aerospace industry,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“This company helped form the foundation of our state’s contribution to missile defense, space exploration and aviation advancements, and it continues to shape these industries in markets around the globe with breakthrough technologies and products,” he added.

Compensation by Clearance Level

All clearance levels are experiencing major growth from Alabama’s compensation boom. Compensation for Secret, Top Secret, and Top Secret/SCI all grew from 2018 to 2020. Secret and Top Secret/SCI compensation increased by 11%, and Top Secret compensation increased by 15%. While some regions heavily emphasize only TS/SCI or specific clearance levels, every clearance level in Alabama got shown the money in 2020. As Alabama’s aerospace industry and defense foothold continues to deepen, its compensation for Secret, Top Secret, and Top Secret/SCI grows, too.

Compensation by Career Level

In Alabama, management is the place to be when it comes to compensation. While 10 years or more in the industry will pay almost double an entry level position, the leap to management is where the money is at, with almost an additional $30,000 over a senior level career position. So, for those who enjoy managing people and projects, it does pay to take technical skills and apply them to the management track. Between 2018 and 2020, early career professionals saw the highest compensation increases, with a 24% increase. Senior level professional salaries also rose between 2018 and 2020 with an 18% bump. Candidates with experience in highly technical positions, like engineering and cybersecurity, can push for the accompanying compensation.

Top Paying Cleared Jobs in Alabama

Aerospace and engineering garner top salaries in Alabama, with Rocket City’s space and cyber missions pushing the emphasis on aviation and engineering careers. Systems engineering, with a focus in aerospace, avionics, geospatial, modeling, simulations, and management, paid the most with average compensation of $132,347. Project managers earn the second highest salaries in Alabama. Someone has to keep the gears moving and make sure those rockets take off on time and within budget, and that’s what cleared management professionals are able to do—and they earn top salaries to do it. Redstone Arsenal alone is home to more than 60 federal agencies with a federal budget of more than $50 billion. IT Security and Aerospace Aviation careers round out the top five highest paid industries in Alabama. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is high everywhere, including Alabama. High compensation for aerospace is unique to the needs of Alabama’s space and Air Force industries, where flight testing and quality assurance professionals are always in demand.


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.