Careers for people with Security Clearance

Security cleared jobs offer opportunities for an exciting, varied career. But getting the necessary certifications can be a time-consuming process. Therefore, if you already have the necessary background to make this easier - or possess a clearance from a previous role - you'll be in a great position. 

There are several reasons why this might be the case. For example, if you're leaving a career in the armed forces or police and returning to civilian life, you may already have an existing security clearance, or at the very least be well-positioned to pass any vetting processes without difficulty.

You may therefore be wondering how to make the best use of these certifications and any skills that come along with them. Fortunately, there are a wide range of career opportunities that will require these security clearances, and if you already have them before applying, this can make potential employers look far more favourably on you.

Key sectors looking for talent

For those who are leaving the uniformed services - whether this is the military or the police - a good option is often to remain involved in the public sector in some way. This can mean working with defence contractors or taking up a role in central government, for example. However, many private sector firms also highly value the skills and security clearance these professionals bring with them. 

These organisations often place high emphasis on qualities such as trustworthiness, integrity and reliability, and having an existing security clearance can be highly advantageous in demonstrating these traits. Having experience in these disciplined, highly-sensitive environments is extremely useful.

Another quickly-growing sector is cyber security and forensics. Because these types of jobs involve handling highly confidential and top secret documents, security clearances are often a minimum requirement for careers in this sector. In fact, many IT roles now make security vetting a key part of the application process. 

Therefore, if you're got the right skills, you can often find yourself eligible for more prestigious roles at blue-chip companies, and a quicker road to entry than some without Security Clearance.

The transferable skills you can use

Having security cleared status isn't just about demonstrating your personal qualities. In many cases, the technical skills these types of roles require will fit in well with previous experience.

For instance, many people who are leaving roles in the armed forces may be surprised at just how many opportunities there may be to translate their specialist training and experience into civilian life. Indeed, many careers for ex-military personnel will closely mirror those found in the forces. 

If your background is in signals, for example, firms working in the telecommunications sector are often on the lookout for people with these skills for highly sensitive projects. For these firms, candidates with a strong knowledge not only of the technology, but also the procedures and working practices of the Ministry of Defence, will be hugely useful. 

Elsewhere, those with experience as electrical or mechanical engineers can find their skills cross over well to a wide variety of sectors, from energy and utilities to aerospace. Those leaving the police, meanwhile, are likely to have excellent investigative skills that lend themselves well to a career in forensics.

In addition to these skills, you're also likely to have picked up a range of other qualities that will be especially useful for careers in security cleared roles. These include:

  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Flexibility
  • Reliability
  • Communication 
  • Leadership 
  • Self-motivation
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork

The next steps for finding your perfect role

Many roles will specify exactly what level of security clearance they expect applicants to have. The more advanced the level required, the longer the application process may take. Developed vetting, for example, usually takes a minimum of three months to complete - but can be much longer. 

As such, it's important to understand what the minimum requirements are before applying for any job that asks for a specific security clearance. These will vary according to the exact role and the type of information you'll be expected to work with.

A residency requirement is one common baseline you'll need to have in order to pass a security clearance check. For an SC clearance, for example, you'll need to have lived in the UK for a minimum of five years, whereas for the tougher DV check, you'll usually need a minimum of ten years' UK residency. For DV roles, you'll also need to be a UK national. 

If you have spent any significant amount of time out of the country in the past few years - for example if you've been working abroad - this may affect the decision, but if you can give a solid account of your time, your application may still be considered.

Another essential is to have a sponsor, who will be obliged to explain why clearance is needed. This will usually be your employer, so if you don't already have the necessary clearance when you're offered a job, they will sponsor you when the role is offered. 

Individuals cannot apply for security clearances through the government's UK Security Vetting service without a sponsor, so if you're thinking of getting ahead of the game by obtaining your own clearance, you'll need to think again. 

If you've already been through the vetting procedure with a previous employer, you'll stand well-placed to start a new career in a security cleared role. Upload your CV here and you can ensure you're visible to potential employers. You can also browse our range of security cleared jobs by sector or the level of security clearance required to ensure you can find a career that matches your skills and experience.