We answer your Security Clearance FAQs
A security clearance will help you get a job more easily - and a better paid one at that. However, even though many people have held security clearances in the Armed Forces, they are often unclear about how to ‘hold on’ or renew their clearances on discharge. It’s not surprising, as it’s complex and confusing; this guide is designed to help you understand what to do, what NOT to do and how to gain, or regain, a security clearance.
A security cleared job can offer fantastic prospects for a high salary and a rewarding, long-term career - and people with security clearances are in high demand. While mainly associated with defence and government positions, many other businesses require security clearance before you are offered a position - security clearances are highly sought-after within the cyber and IT industry for example.
Ex-military personnel are ideally suited to fill these roles, not only because you’ve held or should be able to obtain a security clearance relatively quickly, but because of your knowledge of public sector organisations and the transferable skills and experience needed to work with sensitive and confidential information.
We’re now working with our partners to sponsor people and get them started on the security clearance process as early as possible. Read on to find out more about getting and renewing your security clearances - and discover opportunities to apply for some fantastic jobs today!
In this guide we will answer the following questions:
What are the different levels of security clearance?
What jobs require security clearance?
Why should ex-military personnel consider security cleared roles?
Security Check: What do you need to know?
What checks are involved?
I have or have had a security clearance while serving in the Armed Forces; what do I need to do?
How do I apply for security clearance, if I don’t already hold one or it has lapsed?
Why might I be refused Security Clearance?
How do I renew my Security Clearance?
What is Developed Vetting?
What opportunities are there for SC and DC jobs?
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF SECURITY CLEARANCE?
There are 4 main levels of national security clearance:
WHAT JOBS REQUIRE SECURITY CLEARANCE?
The obvious job roles are those in central government and the Defence industry, most of which require security clearances at either SC or DV level. However, they are also needed by:
Defence/ Government contractors
Cyber Security firms
Nuclear and research establishments
Some international organisations
IT and Telecommunications
Engineering: plumbers, electricians and multi skilled-technicians
WHY SHOULD EX-MILITARY PERSONNEL CONSIDER SECURITY CLEARED ROLES?
High salary, great job prospects and the chance to utilise your military skills and experience to name a few!
Entry level positions start at £32,000, the potential to earn £70,000+ as you climb the career ladder. The average security security clearance salary is £47,500.
2. Great Career Prospects
Generally speaking, if you need security clearance, even in an entry-level role, you will find it easier to find a job and will earn more than similar roles that do not require a clearance. . And with more and more businesses requiring SC, there are a range of job prospects available to you - with a good chance your role can be challenging, exciting and rewarding.
3.Utilise and develop military skills
We talk a lot about transferable skills and how an abundance of roles are suited to ex-military personnel. But what transferable skills do you have that will make you the best candidate for security cleared roles?
Knowledge of Defence and other public sector organisations, their ways of working and the tools and equipment they use
Security mindset and experience working with sensitive information
Analytical/ planning skills, taking account of security issues
Information security skills
Operations management skills and experience
Incident management skills
Stakeholder/ relationship management skills
SECURITY CHECK: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
People who need security clearance include members of the Armed Forces, police officers, civil servants, intelligence agency employees and generally, those who will have access to sensitive information (classified and top secret) in industries like Defence, IT, Cyber Security, Nuclear industries.
SC clearance must be formally reviewed after 10 years - 5 years for non-List X contractors (List X contractors are companies operating in the UK who are working on UK government contracts which require them to hold classified information).
WHAT CHECKS ARE INVOLVED?
It can feel intrusive and extensive - but it is important to remember that security vetting is needed for individuals in a position where they have access to sensitive material. It is not compulsory - but not doing so may affect the chances of gaining employment for a particular role.
The official guidance from the government advises what checks are involved, these include:
successful completion of the Baseline Personnel Security Standard
completion, by the individual, of a security questionnaire
a departmental/company records check which will include, for example personal files, staff reports, sick leave returns and security records
a check of both spent and unspent criminal records
a check of credit and financial history with a credit reference agency
a check of Security Service (MI5) records
exceptionally, if there are any unresolved security concerns about the individual, or if recommended by the Security Service, the individual may also be interviewed
in the event of any unresolved financial concerns, the individual may also be required to complete a separate financial questionnaire so that a full review of personal finances can be carried out
checks may extend to third parties included on the security questionnaire.
I HAVE OR HAVE HAD A SECURITY CLEARANCE WHILE SERVING IN THE ARMED FORCES; WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
An SC is valid for 5 years and can be transferred to a civilian employer. So check when it’s due to expire and, if you can, renew it before you are discharged. This could be the single best way to improve your chances of finding a job when you leave!
A DV can not be transferred directly to a civilian employer; it expires the minute you leave the role for which you require the clearance or leave the Armed Forces. However, because a civilian employer knows you’ve held a DV, they will be able to regain it more easily and more quickly than someone who has held an SC or lower level clearance. who intends to employ you in a DV role will know.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR SECURITY CLEARANCE, IF I DON’T ALREADY HOLD ONE OR IT HAS LAPSED?
There are a number of checks that need to be completed which culminates in an interview.
1.Find a Sponsor
They are normally your human resources/personnel officer or company security controller. They will confirm your role requires security clearance and that they have carried out the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS). If you are a civil servant or serving in the Armed Forces, your sponsor will be allocated once it is decided that you need clearance to carry out your role. Your sponsor will create your clearance application and you will receive a link to fill out a security questionnaire. If you’re a jobseeker and do not have access to a sponsor, then contact us at SaluteMyJob and we’ll do our best to help.
2. Security Questionnaire
The questionnaire is straightforward - but extensive. You must answer all of the questions asked in order for the checks to begin. If you are unsure on any questions it would be best to contact your sponsor. Be honest - misleading or concealing information on a security questionnaire is serious.
3. Cross Checks
Cross checks will be made on crime and security databases, credit reference agencies and with your referees and supervisors. Further information may be needed but you will be contacted if necessary - and any update on the progress of your application can be made through your sponsor.
4. The Vetting Interview
This can feel daunting and invasive but all the vetting officer is trying to do is find out as much as they can to make an informed assessment. They want to trust you will be able to cope with access to sensitive information. It is important to remember that the vetting process is needed to make sure someone will not become a security risk and a threat to national security. The vetting officer is not there to make moral judgements on your lifestyle and will be open-minded - so it’s important to be open and honest. So what kind of questions do they ask? The interview will focus on past experiences, your family history, sexual orientation, health, drinking habits, any drug taking past of present, financial situation, general political views, hobbies, foreign travel history or connections.
What documents do I need to provide?
- evidence of identification, for example: birth certificate, passport (also required as evidence of travel), driving licence, identity card
- utility bills (for proof of address)
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Deed Poll or certificate of declaration in respect of any change of name
- naturalisation or registration certificate
- adoption certificate
- marriage certificate/civil partnership documents
- Conditional Order, Decree Nisi, Final Order or Decree Absolute
- separation or maintenance orders
- HM Forces (HMF) discharge certificate.
Financial documents (for you and your partner):
- bank statements for any current accounts (last three months)
- statements for credit, charge and store cards (last three months)
- statements for mail order accounts (last three months)
- details and statements of all loans and hire purchase agreements
- latest mortgage statement, including monthly repayments and remaining balance
- details of any County Court Judgements
- last three pay statements or payslips
- documents and statements connected with savings and investments
- any other documents which support or help to explain any figures on the Financial Questionnaire (FQ).
WHY MIGHT YOU BE REFUSED SECURITY CLEARANCE?
There are a number of reasons why you may be refused clearance, we have listed some here:
Residency: You have not been in the UK long enough - four out of the last five years for a SC clearance and nine out of the last ten years for DV.
Financial irregularities (high debt for example) that may open you to bribery or lack of trust with finances.
Any indication from employer records that you may be a security risk or untrustworthy.
A criminal record, spent or unspent - though this does not mean if you do have a criminal conviction you will be refused - each case is considered on an individual basis.
If you or immediate family have any ties certain groups, eg. terrorism, you may be refused.
Any gaps in employment history that cannot be confirmed.
HOW DO I RENEW MY SECURITY CLEARANCE?
You will have to go through the same process as above. However the clearance process should be quicker and less risky for your sponsor. (Therefore employers will always prefer someone who has previously held a clearance.)
WHAT IS DEVELOPED VETTING?
Developed Vetting (DV) clearance is the highest government security clearance in the UK and must be formally reviewed after 3 or 7 years - 3 years, depending on the status of your employer. Those who require frequent and uncontrolled access to Top Secret material, either directly as part of their job or indirectly and individuals who will work closely with Category I nuclear material, or who require access to certain levels of classified material originating from another country or international organisation must have DV clearance.
You must be employed or are about to be employed in a role requiring a DV in order for your sponsor to apply or hold this level of clearance. In addition to all the SC Clearance checks, you and your referees will be required to be interviewed by an Investigating Officer. Your finances and those of your partner or spouse will also be thoroughly investigated.
What checks are involved
- successful completion of the Baseline Personnel Security Standard
- completion, by the individual, of a DV security questionnaire
- a departmental/company records check which will include personal files, staff reports, sick leave returns and security records
- a check of both spent and unspent criminal records
- a check of credit and financial history with a credit reference agency
- a check of Security Service (MI5) records
- a full review of personal finances
- a detailed interview conducted by a trained Investigating Officer
- further enquiries, including interviews with referees conducted by a trained Investigating Officer
- checks may extend to third parties included on the security questionnaire
- the full review of personal finances will include an assessment of an individual’s assets, liabilities, income and expenditure both on an individual basis and taking into account the joint position with a spouse or partner.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE THERE FOR SC AND DV JOBS?
We are always liaising with employers who are looking for ex-military candidates who have - or are willing to get SC or DV Clearance so please get in touch and search our current jobs here.
Want to learn more about National Security Vetting and clearance levels? Have a browse of some of the useful resources below.
3 Benefits of having a Security Clearance
Ex Forces and Security Cleared Roles
Security Clearance FAQs
UK Guidance Security Vetting