ClearanceJobs.com is home to expert guidance on the security clearance process. Want to know how to get a clearance? What are the rules about security clearances and drug use? How to check on the status of your security clearance investigation? We’ve got these answers and many (many) more.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
What Is a Security Clearance and How Do You Get One?
A security clearance really refers to eligibility to access classified information. Certain jobs with the federal government, or companies who work with the federal government, require access to classified information that can only be revealed to American citizens who’ve been vetted and deemed trustworthy and suitable for that position.
You can’t get a clearance (or access) on your own. In order to obtain a security clearance, you must first obtain a job that requires one. Your employer – either the federal government or a government contractor – will walk you through the process of obtaining a clearance, after they’ve decided they want you for the job. Step one – find a job. Step two, obtain a clearance (read more about obtaining a security clearance here).
What’s an Automatic Disqualifier for a Security Clearance?
Outside of requiring American citizenship, there is only one thing that is an automatic disqualifier for obtaining a federal security clearance – current, ongoing use of an illegal drug. According to the Bond Amendment which became law in 2008, there are technically four disqualifying criteria: criminal conviction resulting in a prison sentence over 1 year; dishonorable discharge from the military, criminal incompetence; or addiction to a controlled substance.
In practice, waivers have been granted in each of these instances except for the continuous, ongoing use of illicit drugs. That’s one issue adjudicators have thus far been unwilling to budge on (keep reading about security clearance disqualifiers here).
If you’re currently employed, checking on your clearance is easy – simply ask your Facility Security Officer about the status of your clearance. The vast majority of clearance holders are cleared through the National Industrial Security Program (NISP). The Defense Information System for Security (DISS) can be used by your FSO to check your clearance status. Your Personnel Security Investigation (PSI) may be either current or expired (keep reading about how to check your clearance status here).