What are Security Cleared Jobs?

If you're looking for a new career in certain sectors, the chances are you'll be asked to complete a security clearance before being considered for a role. This is an essential part of the recruitment process and one you have to factor in before completing an application.

There are a wide range of industries that use these certifications. While they're primarily associated with Central Government and Defence roles and businesses that have sensitive government contracts, many other commercial firms also require potential employees to undergo thorough vetting before being offered a position.

The benefits of having a security clearance

There are many benefits to applying for a role that requires security clearance. Completing the vetting process demonstrates your integrity and trustworthiness and can open up new doors for your future career. 

This not only potentially offers you the prospect of a better salary, but also the chance to work on some of the country's most cutting-edge and exciting projects. It also provides a certain level of job security, as employers will only go through lengthy vetting processes for the right candidate.

If you've already obtained a security clearance from a previous role, this may help you stand out from other candidates and can greatly shorten the hiring process. Employers can interview you with confidence without worrying about the possibility of you failing the vetting process, so may be more likely to look favourably on your application at the early stages.

Getting and maintaining a security clearance puts you in a favourable position for your future. It provides you with the opportunity for much more flexibility and allows you to choose from a wider range of career paths. Even if your next job application doesn't require a security clearance, having one speaks volumes about your character and capabilities. 

Who awards security clearances?

In the UK, the vetting and certification of security clearances is handled by the United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV) service, which is part of the Cabinet Office. This body is responsible for reviewing all the background information you'll need to supply as part of the application process and, if necessary, carrying out in-person interviews to determine your suitability for security clearances.

In 2021, the UKSV adopted a new charter to govern the process, with the aim of ensuring these activities are fair and accessible to all applicants. Among its tenets are:

  • Dignity and respect to applicants
  • Non-judgemental
  • Professionalism
  • Respect for privacy
  • Provide a "helpful, efficient, effective and transparent" service

In exchange, candidates are asked to be open, straightforward and engaging, provide accurate records and keep the service updated on any changes, and respond to any queries in good time.

The Civil Service - which requires some level of clearance for all its roles - notes: "Vetting allows us to know that everyone with access to protectively marked material has a high level of integrity, and is unlikely to be blackmailed or extorted."

UKSV is responsible for five key levels of clearance that will be required for the majority of security cleared jobs in the UK. These are:

  • Counter Terrorist Check (CTC)
  • Security Check (SC)
  • Enhanced Security Check (eSC)
  • Developed Vetting (DV)
  • Enhanced Developed Vetting (eDV)

If you do have to attend an interview, which will be necessary for all DV and some SC roles, you should expect a "very frank and open conversation" with an interviewer who will not discuss the contents of your conversation with anyone else. If you would feel more comfortable with an interviewer of the same gender, ethnic background, or religion, this can be arranged by the vetting team.

The careers available for people with security cleared status

Security clearances are often required for any position where you will be expected to deal with highly confidential information. This may be proprietary technology, highly sensitive personal information or government or military secrets. 

The types of roles that require clearance are also very wide-ranging. Engineering positions, IT specialists, accounting and finance jobs and even admin and HR positions will require some level of vetting

In general, organisations and industries where security clearances will often be a minimum requirement include:

  • Central government (especially at departments such as the Home Office, Foreign Office, Department of Justice and Ministry of Defence)
  • Armed forces (including contractors)
  • Police services
  • NATO or other international organisations
  • Nuclear facilities
  • Aerospace
  • Telecommunications
  • Cyber security consultancies

Some careers can be particularly well-suited to people who already have experience working in sensitive and restricted environments, as they stand well-placed to pass through vetting procedures without issues.

For example, if you're leaving the police or leaving the armed forces, the chances are you'll have picked up skills that will be in high demand among organisations where security clearance is a must - and you're likely to already have the necessary vetting many jobs will require.

How can I get security cleared?

If you don't already have the required level of security clearance, you may be required to obtain this as part of the recruitment process, and any job offer will be conditional on you passing the vetting.

There are a range of security clearance levels with varying degrees of strictness. But generally, you'll be required to submit to a background check that covers areas such as residency, financial history, criminal record and a security questionnaire. Some high-security clearance levels may require more in-depth information or an in-person interview.

Some of the more thorough clearances, such as developed vetting, can take several months to complete, which is why it's potentially advantageous to already have this clearance when you apply. 

Security clearances don't last indefinitely and may need to be renewed depending on the job. They will usually also remain for 12 months after leaving a security cleared post. This allows you to apply for other vetted positions without having to start the process all over again.

Find out more about how to get security cleared here, then browse our wide range of security cleared jobs or register and upload your CV to ensure you stand the best chance of being found by recruiters.