To those who have never worked for the federal government or been around the national security scene, there can be a sense of mystique and intrigue about clearance holders. Maybe you had a friend who always acted really shady when you asked basic questions. Sometimes, evasive responses are warranted, but often they are not. Over time, a lot of myths can grow about the life of clearance holders.

Myths about Clearance Holders

Here are three common myths about clearance holders.

1. All clearance holders do super secret work – and they can’t tell you ANYTHING about it.

For every Secret Squirrel, ‘if I told you I’d have to kill you’ job, there’s someone behind the scenes, managing the contract or the finances. There are also a lot of normal, everyday programs that require a security clearance. Clearance holders can be electricians, janitors, finance professionals, and more. A security clearance doesn’t make you Jason Bourne. 

2. If you are denied a Top Secret clearance, you can try for a Secret instead.

This may seem like a reasonable concept; however, the 13 adjudicative guidelines are the same for Top Secret AND Secret. The difference is the intensity of the background investigation, but clearance holders need to meet the same guidelines in order to get that clearance. So, if your foreign contact or drug use would keep you from a Top Secret job, know that it will also keep you from a Secret job.   

3. If this person can get a clearance, so can I.

You don’t have to look that far to find public and private examples of people who you would never think could get a clearance. And yet, there they are, getting access to classified information every day in a sensitive government job. Clearances are granted based on the whole person concept. That means there are few red and green lights when it comes to actions or behavior. The decision really is based on the individual. Comparisons won’t hold up. Don’t use your friends or public figures as your standard. Use the adjudicative guidelines

National Security: a Worthy Cause

Myth or not, supporting the nation’s security is a worthy cause – no matter what type of job you hold. Keeping the nation secure and running requires a diversity of jobs, thoughts, and people. Search for jobs at


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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.