It’s annual review season. If you’re wondering how to figure out what you’re worth this year and make a better case to your hiring manager, check out the results of the 2022 ClearanceJobs Compensation Report. We unpack the state of security clearance compensation every year. ClearanceJobs recently chatted about compensation in a conversation with editor Jill Hamilton, who conducts the annual survey and writes about the results.

This year’s survey had 52,028 respondents – a 14% increase from the prior year. After eliminating those who don’t have a clearance, are unemployed, or are active duty, the report analyzed compensation for 24,089 respondents.

“We survey the industry each year to provide a resource to both recruiters and candidates on compensation in the security clearance industry, as well as, a pulse point of where the industry is this past year,” said Hamilton. “Sometimes, we can feel those movements as we watch the news and hear from candidates and recruiters, but when you can put real numbers behind those feelings, you can add some validity to the claims. The pandemic took some time to shake things up a little in the defense industry. 2020 was all about supporting the people – there was a lot of messaging behind that. People were generally satisfied at work and content to say put. Government funding kept companies happy – everyone was solid. Then, 2021 came, and the defense industry was expected to go back to normal – even though the rest of the world was still not normal.”

Hamilton compared the cleared job market to the real estate market – where competition is hot and things move quickly. The status quo year of 2020 fell by the wayside in 2021,and many candidates now report being willing to make a move.

The other key shift is in respondents. Demographic shifts were a major theme in the 2022 Compensation Report.

“In 2020, millennials and Generation X had the same percentage. Now we see millennial respondents up 6% and baby boomers down 6%,” said Hamilton.

The other key takeaway is compensation by occupation – when it comes to where the money is, a few occupations reign supreme.

“Both Software and Systems engineering were the highest paid occupations this past year. They, along with other IT or engineering fields, are consistently six-figure salary occupations. Usually business sales or management fields keep pace with tech fields, but this year, systems and software took a big leap ahead,” said Hamilton.

How to Use the ClearanceJobs Compensation report

Because of the breadth of respondents and variety of occupations, the Security Clearance Compensation Report is like a vitals check on the cleared industry. Compensation has many variables, and the report helps both recruiters and candidates tap into key shifts, trends, and areas of growth an dopportunity.

“The survey data really gives recruiters and hiring managers a pulse point on the industry from so many different angles,” said Hamilton. “Understanding industry norms and changes really helps drive those salary negotiations with reality. Not only does occupation and experience level impact the salary conversation – but so does location. Not every location pays the same. The higher the cost of living, the higher the salary.”

That data is also useful for candidates – who can see how education, certifications, and other factors contribute to salary increases.

“Use the location, occupation, and experience numbers to see where you salary lines up and negotiate accordingly,” advises Hamilton.


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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.