Security clearances have seen steady improvements in processing times since the days several years ago when it could take nearly two years to obtain a Top Secret security clearance. How long should applicants applying for a security clearance today expect to wait? Current clearance processing times for Department of Defense industry applicants are an average of 181 business days. For Secret DoD industry applicants, average times are 112 days.

If you’re applying for a position with the intelligence community, the averages are 287 days for a Top Secret clearance, and 204 days for a Secret clearance. The intelligence community conducts its own investigations, and delays are common as applicants undergo a rigorous investigation process.

It’s worth noting that these times are business days, and represent the fastest 90% of all applications. If you have a background investigation that has taken significantly longer, you’re not alone. Congratulations – you fall within the slowest 10% of investigations which the government is not required to report.

Interested in speeding up your clearance process? The best way to do so is to complete your SF-86 carefully, and accurately.

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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