Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Security Clearance Opportunities for Defense Contractors and Cleared Employees

The NISPOM the Cleared Contractor's
 Guide to Security Programs
Potential for Security Clearance Required Jobs

There are more than 12,000 cleared Department of Defense contractor facilities. Considering that organizations can have anywhere from one to thousands of cleared employees, the amount of employees performing classified work is in the hundreds of thousands. Positions requiring security clearances include scientists working on projects to janitorial services and repair providers. Some clearances are based on actually performing classified work or just being cleared to access an area to perform repairs or cleaning services.

Even though a job may require a security clearance, an employee does not need a security clearance to apply for the job. The potential employee must only be eligible for the security clearance. Many frequently asked questions in the defense contractor field are from those who want to know how to get a security clearance so that they can apply for a job. Familiar requests include: “Can I get a security clearance in case I need to apply for another job?” Some employees in the defense industry who do not have clearances often request one just in case it is needed later. Remember that a clearance is contract and performance related; one cannot get a clearance just to apply for a job.

A job seeker’s main responsibility is to find a match to a job they can do well and get the interview. The job description may require the ability to get a clearance, but uncleared people can and should apply. It is up to them to get an interview and win the job. If the potential employer finds a good match, then they will hire the employee and subsequently put in the clearance investigation request. As technology changes and homeland security needs increase, more opportunities for cleared work may arise.

Becoming a cleared contractor

Businesses and entrepreneurs can become a defense contractor entity by applying through www.ccr.gov. This website allows the establishment as a contractor and building of their profile. Once established, the new company can register and bid on government contracts, including those requiring classified work. However, getting a classified contract directly with the government is not easy. Many defense contractors have experienced success only after subcontracting with a prime cleared contractor.

Cleared Security Professionals

Each of the 12,000 facilities appoints an FSO to implement and direct a security program to protect classified information. Additionally, other CSAs (Department of Energy, Central Intelligence Agency, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission) have their own security descriptions with several more thousands of employees. In total, there are thousands of individual security opportunities in the contractor arena. The numbers increase when Government civilians and uniformed personnel are included.

More and more job announcements for FSOs and experienced security specialists are carrying descriptions requiring a certification and education. Recently, the only experience necessary was the ability to get a security clearance and a High School Diploma or GED. However, more and more announcements require formal education to include college and a preference for security certification. The defense security industry still provides a good career field to gain entry level experience and move up quickly; simultaneous education and certification will make future leaders more competitive.

The NISP provides an excellent opportunity for an employee with little experience to enter the field. For example, a veteran of the armed forces with a security clearance and some security experience may find it easy to transition to a security specialist job. Additionally, a young adult with limited work experience or skills may be able to join the security division of a large defense contractor to wrap classified articles or work in the cleared mail room after getting an interim security clearance.

Large Defense Contractors and Government agencies have available entry level security jobs. The job title is often security specialist and job descriptions allow for many experiences. Some descriptions use words to the affect as the following:

“The candidate must be eligible for a security clearance. Job responsibilities include receiving, cataloging, storing, and mailing classified information. Maintain access control to closed areas. Provide security support for classified information processing and destruction. Initiate security clearance requests and process requests for government and contract employees conducting classified visits. Implement security measures as outlined in NISPOM.”

Administrative, military, security guard, police and other past job experience may provide transferrable skills to allow a person to apply for the job. Once hired, the new employee learns the technical skills, they can quickly advance applying their other experiences and education.

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