How to Get a Top Secret Clearance

A top secret clearance allows you to work on classified projects. There is a huge amount of defense, intelligence and homeland security work that is contracted to private companies.


Clearance investigations are rigorous. They are designed to look for issues related to reliability, trustworthiness and integrity. They also cover the entire background of the individual.

What is a Top Secret Clearance?

The federal government classifies information based on its importance and level of security. Employees and contractors who need access to confidential, sec 광주흥신소 ret, or top secret information must obtain clearance. The clearance process varies by agency, but all applicants must complete an SF-86 form, cooperate with investigators, and be trustworthy. Clearance is not a license to spy; instead, it’s an indication that an individual can keep confidential or secret information secure.

The most restrictive clearance is Top Secret, which provides access to extremely sensitive national security information on a need-to-know basis. This level is only granted after a rigorous SSBI and reinvestigation every five years. There are other levels of clearance, including TS-SCI, which provides access to intelligence-related sources and methods. The more restricted TS-SCI+, also known as “black projects” or the black budget, involves highly sensitive research and development in areas such as stealth aircraft and advanced weapons systems.

Other clearances include BPSS, which grants access to unclassified but sensitive information; CTC and EBS, which focus on the person’s susceptibility to extremist or espionage persuasion; and SCI, which is required for long-term, regular access to SECRET or TS information. Finally, the Department of Energy requires a Q clearance for employees who work with its m 광주흥신소 ost sensitive nuclear weapons technology and schematics. These individuals must pass a rigorous investigation and undergo periodic checks.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining a Top Secret Clearance?

A top secret clearance is required for positions at federal agencies and for many private companies with contracts with the government. The level of clearance needed depends on the position and duties, with higher levels requiring more extensive background checks. The process to obtain a top secret clearance can take up to 18 months. Those who work in the intelligence community, foreign policy, and military are often required to have this level of clearance.

In order to gain a top secret clearance, you must undergo a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). This is similar to the standard background check conducted for a Secret clearance, but more extensive. The SSBI includes interviews with acquaintances and former coworkers, as well as checks of places where you have lived, worked, or attended school. It also includes a Foreign Travel and Assets check, an Enhanced Subject Interview, and a Field Investigation.

Additionally, you must pass a Counter Terrorism Check (CTC) and Susceptibility to Espionage Persuasion (SECRET) check. These are effectively enhancements to the Basic Public Trust Service Check (BPSS). For a person with a top secret clearance and DOE “Q” or Special Access Program (SAP) access authorization, or a critical sensitive position, a Tier 5 Reinvestigation is required every five years. Tier 5 investigations are more thorough than SSBIs, and include an Expandable Focused Investigation. SAPs include Acknowledged SAPs, Unacknowledged SAPs, and Waived SAPs that are exempt from standard reporting requirements to Congress.

What is the Process for Obtaining a Top Secret Clearance?

Getting a clearance involves an extensive vetting process. The government looks into an applicant’s background, checking their credit history, and interviewing them. Applicants may also have to go through special training, such as learning how to spot foreign agents.

The federal government classifies information and grants clearances to access it based on the level of national security risk. It uses Executive Orders and US law to establish rules for the process.

Clearances are categorized as Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. The top-secret clearance is for information that could cause severe harm to the nation if leaked without authorization. It requires a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) and must be reinvestigated every five years.

SSBI investigations are more thorough than standard background checks, going deeper into an applicant’s personal life. Investigators will contact acquaintances and people who knew them in school to verify their claims. They will also look into an applicant’s finances to determine if they are carrying too much debt, which could be used as leverage against them.

Besides the SSBI, a Top Secret clearance applicant must also undergo Special Access Program (SAP) training. SAPs are designed for highly sensitive projects and include a range of topics such as counterintelligence and terrorism-related information. The Department of Defense issues the most clearances, but many other executive branch agencies also require them, including departments such as Justice, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Interior and Commerce.

What Are the Benefits of Obtaining a Top Secret Clearance?

A top secret clearance can open doors for federal employees, contractors, and other personnel. Some positions require a security clearance, especially those in the information technology field, that do not involve handling sensitive national security materials. It can also lead to better job opportunities as employers may be able to hire candidates for roles outside their basic qualifications.

The more secure the clearance level, the more thorough the vetting process is. Applicants undergo extensive interviews with government investigators and are required to provide detailed records of their activities. For example, the investigators check a person’s credit history to ensure they are not hiding any debt that could be used to blackmail them into leaking classified information.

Additionally, the investigators look for signs that a person is not trustworthy or honest. They pay particular attention to any history of drug use, gambling, and desperate financial circumstances as these can be red flags that a person is willing to trade secrets for money.

People must go through a period of reinvestigation every five years to maintain their top secret clearance. In order to re-qualify for the clearance, the applicant must submit an updated background investigation report and undergo interviews with investigators who will examine the new information. This can take up to six months. Additionally, the investigators consider whether a person’s lifestyle has changed and whether there are any new reasons to deny a clearance.