Security clearance compensation has shifted notably over the past five years. Our newest report examines trends from 2019 to 2023, exploring the impact market demands, economic factors, and industry-specific developments have had on salaries. Watch the highlights and download all the insights here.  

The Overall Picture 

Over the past five years, security clearance holders have seen their salaries significantly rise. Average compensation rose from $101,395 in 2021 to $114,956 in 2023, marking a 13.6% increase. This reflects the growing demand for skilled security professionals and competitive market pressures. 

The Correlation Between Clearance Level and Higher Pay 

Compensation varies by clearance level. Top Secret/SCI clearance holders saw salaries increase from $111,421 in 2019 to $127,050 in 2023. Intelligence agency roles (CIA, FBI, and NSA), experienced dramatic increases, with average compensation rising from $128,747 to $154,161. 

The Experience Advantage  

While entry-level professionals (less than two years of experience) saw their average salaries grow around $7,000 over the past five years, mid-level professionals (five or more years of experience) saw a significant increase from $84,119 to $99,027. Meanwhile Senior-level professionals (10+ years of experience) experienced a similar surge, rising from $109,795 to $124,760. The notable pay jumps underscore a significant investment in experienced talent. 

Geographic Trends 

Compensation varied by state, with Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado consistently ranking highest. Virginia’s average salary grew from $110,524 in 2019 to $127,082 in 2023, driven by its concentration of defense contractors and government agencies.  

The past five years have revealed that the security and defense industry is a robust and growing sector, specifically for security clearance holders. The consistent rise in salaries across various clearance levels, occupations, and locations proves the high demand for skilled professionals.

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Phoebe Wells is the Public Relations & Partnerships Marketing Manager at ClearanceJobs and loves every aspect of her role. Creating content and working with the CJ team to connect cleared candidates with employers is incredibly rewarding, as the work ClearanceJobs does ultimately supports the mission of the U.S. As the daughter of a veteran and former cleared worker, she knows the sacrifices security and defense professionals make. She is honored to assist them in leveling up their careers. Plus, she gets to work from home in the Adirondack Mountains with her partner and two huskies!