Although not required for all positions, obtaining a security clearance is important when trying to enter the intelligence field of homeland security. While not all positions require applicants to already have one in place, most do require that applicants be able to obtain a clearance. It is important to understand what is required to obtain a clearance, the limitations, and how one is obtained before beginning the job search. One key piece of information to keep in mind: never trust a company offering preapproval for a clearance, no matter how small the fee they are charging.
- There are three basic clearance classifications: Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. Within each clearance level there are different levels of clearance.
- Security clearances can be issued by many U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Justice (FBI and CIA both fall under the DoJ umbrella).
- To acquire a clearance, individuals must be sponsored by an employer and in a position for which a clearance is required.
- Individuals who are naturalized U.S. citizens may acquire a clearance in the same way that a natural-born U.S. citizen might.
- Although non-U.S. citizens are prohibited from obtaining a clearance, they may be granted Limited Access Authorization (LAA) in circumstances where they possess critical skills or qualifications.
Within the Intelligence Community (IC) there are a wide a range of positions available, drawing on diverse disciplines and intersecting various areas of academic and professional specialization. Although position descriptions detailing each position and a comprehensive list of disciplines may not be available, some examples include engineering, business, research technology, finance, computer science, cyber security analysis, acquisitions, and economics. Additional information on the types of opportunities the intelligence community has to offer can be found on intelligencecareers.gov.
As mentioned above, the intelligence field offers various types of opportunities, for which O*Net, a website run by the U.S. Department of Labor, has position descriptions. Related job titles include Business Intelligence Analyst, Political Scientist, Intelligence Analyst, Criminal Investigators and Special Agents, and Police Detective.
While not included in O*Net’s catalogue of job titles and position descriptions, there are a number of key search terms or job titles that job seekers might use when searching for positions in intelligence, including All Source Analyst, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Human Intelligence (HUMIT), and Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT).
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