As you search for national security jobs, you may notice that many positions have the TS/SCI designation as a job requirement. But what does that even mean, and how can you get the job – especially if you don’t already have those credentials?

The TS stands for the Top Secret security clearance. SCI stands for “Sensitive Compartmented Information” but it’s not a level of clearance. SCI grants access to certain information, such as intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes. If you have a Top Secret clearance, you are eligible for the SCI as long as your job requires that level of approval and you’re read into the program.

Just because you have a Top Secret clearance doesn’t mean you hold SCI access. Because SCI isn’t tied to a specific security clearance, Secret security clearance holders can have SCI access.

How do I get a job with TS/SCI?

If you don’t already have a Top Secret clearance with SCI access, fear not! While some positions might ask that you already have them, others will just require that you obtain them before you begin work – or before you access certain information.

As with any security clearance, you can’t apply for it on your own. Your position has to require that security level and the SCI access as well, and your future employer has to sponsor you through the process. Be honest on your application for the job if you don’t have the clearance yet. It might also be worth a check to make sure you have nothing in your past that might keep you from getting the clearance.

If you get hired, your employer may have stipulations that you need to get your clearance (or at least an interim clearance) before you begin work. While the time it takes is largely out of your control, you can take a few extra steps to make the clearance process go more quickly. The best thing you can do is to make sure your SF-86 is filled out accurately and completely. This will save time for both you and your background investigator.

Having a security clearance can boost your income potential and give you access to more career options. And while you can’t apply for a security clearance on your own, taking the leap to an employer who does require them could have a positive effect on both your bank account and your career trajectory.


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Brynn Mahnke is a freelance writer specializing in researching, writing, and ghostwriting for clients in the career, finance, SaaS, and B2B/B2C niches. She focuses on writing case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and articles showcasing the value her clients bring to their customers. When she isn't writing, you can find her running, cycling, or wrangling children. She can be reached through her website or at