Career AdviceSecurity Clearance Process

Ask Your Career Questions – Part 3

By popular demand, a place to ask questions on defense careers. All topics are open, including: career advice, salaries, best places to work, company research, interviewing, resume help, and more. Ask your questions, but please do not identify yourself or post your email address. If you have questions regarding security clearances, or security clearance investigations, see the thread below. Thanks

Comment Archive

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    I have two counts of simple assualt and battery one was on an officer, I also have disorderly, and obstruction to justice.All from the same case. I pleaded guilty but I personally did not hit or hurt anybody. However, the officer got hurt because he slipped and fell on his on accord in the incident, the girl was pushed and not injured at all. Although,I am very sorry anybody got hurt at all. But because of ack of representation and no witness on my behalf, I was scared and pleaded guilty. I had no prior convictions. That was 7 years ago. I have an BS degree in business admin, working on my MBA in accounting/business degree. I have 15 years of management experience and would would love to work for the govt as and budget auditor or accountant. I would like to know if a one time event be an disqualifier to getting hired and getting a clearance from any state or federal job forever? Is there a time limit that i would have to wait to apply? I was prior service honarable discharge, and am a disable veteran. would any of that count for getting hired?

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    I am applying to any and all intel jobs with the government that I qualify for. Have been for almost a month. I have been referred to several but have not heard anything YET past the referral. I would like to work the non-fed side as well but from what I can tell all contractors are want cleared people. How does a GS7-9 qualified non-cleared person break into the non fed side of intelligence?

    Also, when fbi, cpb, navy, army say you have been referred to the hiring authority, how long in general should lapse before its safe to assume your probably not going forward?


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    jeff64g –

    I think the answer to your question is, maybe?

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    David – the Federal hiring process is very long and a bit disorganized at times. We’ve heard of candidates applying for jobs in the intel community and not hearing back from anyone for up to a year. Keep at it.

    We suggest hitting local job fairs where the CIA, FBI, and NSA are exhibiting. Talk to the recruters on-hand and get their contact info.

    Check back on soon for jobs from the CIA and FBI direct from hiring recruiters. We are working to get their jobs on the site.

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    The company that I applied with over a year and a half ago was finally granted permission by the government to submit the paperwork for the processing of my clearance. The investigation took place starting in June and the investigator informed me he had to submit his results by July 15. I took the full-scope poly on July 2. By early August, I was told I was in the adjudication phase. This seems rather quick to me, but I did have a previous TS/SCI which had only recently expired. My question involves the timeframe for the adjudication process. I have seen various averages online with some as low as 30 days. What averages are you seeing as typical? Or is it impossible to come up with a “typical” scenario as there are so many disparate numbers of days? Appreciate the response – I’m pretty desperate to get this job and the wait is like Chinese water torture.

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    I’ve been working for a couple of months as a civilian with the DOD. I’m brand new to civil service. All of my previous experience has been in the private sector.

    I’ve been talking to some of the folks around the office, and they’ve kind of scared me. Is it really hard to get your grade promotions on time? I was hired on a federal career intern program, so I’m supposed to move up a grade yearly for the next 2 years (as long as I perform satisfactorily).

    I left a quite accomplished career behind when I joined the DOD, but I did not abandon all ambition when I became a civil servant. Some of the experienced people in the office are making me feel as if I’ll be stuck in the same place/position forever.

    I hope the old-timers are just trying to scare the new blood… Does anyone have advice or experiences to share? I’d like a second opinion please.

    Thank you!

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    I am curious if anyone knows any information about the civilian Scholarship for Service programs (e.g. Cyber Corps, SMART). This is where a student attends school for a certain number of years, with their tuition covered by the government and obtaining a stipend, but must work for the government or DoD for an equivalnent number of years after graduation.

    They seem like a great idea, but it seems like it could be risky in terms of clearances. This is because, as far as I know, students are accepted without already being cleared, and obtaining clearances is a condition of remaining in the program. Hence, a student who is accepted to a scholarship for service program and fails to obtain a clearance has to reimburse the government for the tuition that the government covered, as well as they stipend they were paid as a student.

    Anyway, I’m curious to know:
    1. If anyone here has done a scholarship for service program, or knows any information about it.
    2. If anyone has any information about the ability of such students to obtain clearances, and whether it is frequent that students in these programs fail to obtain their clearances and have to reimburse the government.
    3. Has anyone been accepted to this program, had no trouble with the clearance, but had difficulty finding a job after graduation.

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    This question is from the GAO testimony forum and is a reply to the investigators question.

    My FSO stated that I had a dismissed charge (misdemeanor) that had not been closed yet and that automatically was a reason for an interim secret denial. It is off of my record now and has been for the last 4 months. I recieved documentation from my lawyer and the courts on the charge being dismissed. I am worried about things that might need to be answered but without an interview they can not be answered. I am in shambles right now and we all know stress kills.

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    The Information Assurance field appears to be a hot field right now for government contractors. I’m working as an Information System Security Officer (ISSO). I want to if there are plans for this heat to cool off in the near future. Many employers are seeking ISSO’s for high salaries. I wonder if there will be a significant decrease in the available positions in the future and/or will the pay scale decrease as well.

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    To Jessica B.

    Keep the faith. The intern program was designed to give you enough experience to gain a GS-12, which can be done without competition. With a minimum experience of one year at the GS-12 level, you can be promoted to a GS-13, but you have to compete for that, but you will have enough experience to be considered.

    The unfortunate part is the changeover from the GS system to NSPS. You will be guaranteed a billet at a Pay Band 2. Going from a pay band 2 to 3 will be difficult, but keep your skills current, both technical and managerial. Get your DAWIA certificates and gain membership to the Acquisition Corps, that is if you are in an acquisition billet. Take leadership courses and learn policies concerning EEO.

    The federal government will be facing a wave of retirements in the next 5 to 10 years and you could be in a good position for rapid advancement.

    Best Wishes in your career.

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    I have personally conducted investigations on a few students you mention. Neither had problems and are doing very well. You will not be cleared any differently than anyone else. I will say, it is one of the best deals I have ever seen. I was a career military man and they had no programs to match that. The last one I did, the kid went on as a GS-12 position I believe. Not bad for a 22 year old kid. I believe they only had to commit for 2 years after graduation. Go for it. If you have a pretty clean past, you would be fine. If you worry about a polygraph, just apply for a job that doesn’t require one.

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    I have been a contractor with a TS/SCI w/full scope for 3 years. In July of 2008, I had an accident in which the police administered field sobriety tests. He stated that I failed them and said I was being arrested. He then stated that if I didnt take the breathalyzer I would go to jail. I stated take me then because I was not drunk and hoped that would be noticed and that I could be breathalyzed there as there was something odd in the cops behavior. He stated then that he was not going to take me. He gave me citations and took me home. I reported the incident and gave them my court date. They want to speak to me 1 day after court. A week after the incident I had an alcohol evaulation and have completed 14 hours of alcohol education even before the courts decision to mitigate the security concern. I was not drinking that night, but was around alot of drunks hence the smell of alchohol the officer indicated. I have never been in trouble with the law, and was only evaluated to be a “social drinker” .What do you think my chances are of keeping my clearance? Thank you

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    Hey Everyone,

    I would like and very much appreciate some feedback. In this area and on the internet, it is hard to find anything concrete in anything like a fact or experiences.

    I am a recent college graduate of 2 months. This has field has been an interest of mine for a long time but sadly, i feel i am unremarkable and because of a experience in my past I will never be able to get into any part of a private intelligence agency. (i smartly have given up on anything federal)

    first, the experience. About 2 years ago, when I was 21, I was caught in a car with someone who had drugs on them. Since they were in the car and not his pocket, I was also charged. Possesion of Controlled substance 1 – opiates. My lawyer reccomended a program called Pre Trial Intervention, which after a year of supervision if I did not get in any trouble, the case would be dismissed. At the time it was the smarter choice because why even risk being found guilty if i could have the case dismissed another way.

    I am currently in the process of having the ARREST expunged. (after it is expunged I am hoping to join the Army or Army National Guard) For the national guard, with the arrest on my record, i would need a felony waiver but if i have it properly expunged on the very local level, i will not need any waiver.(info from the recruiter) On a regular backround check, it would not show up at all, i could put i have been in no trouble with no risk of perjury (info from my lawyer)

    Here it is alittle hazy only because I know there is no such thing as an expungement in the army or govt only for civilian life. I recruiter implied that if the record is destroyed all the way down the local courthouse, he can somehow get me in. But i think i know that it will ALWAYS be in the FBI database. Anyway, my Hope is to get into a counter-intelligence MOS and get a clearance through the service and from there move into the private sector.

    I am sorry to be so long winded but i feel in order to get the best response possible I should give all info.

    I have looked through the clearance forms and I am good on everything (credit, work history, never cheated on a woman, dont have enemies who would bad mouth me) but I do have the arrest on my record and some heavier drug use (marijuana +++) though not in 2 years and could poly on that and pee clean.

    I graduated school with a 3.65 GPA BA in business administration. I can speak some Karsi (langauge of alot of Iran) and am learning more every day that I should be completely fluent in 6 months to a year. I am looking to go into graduate school and thinking poly sci would be best to help me get into intell. I have heard it is easier to get a clearance if you have 7 years with no drugs ( i havent had alcohol in many years) so should i bide my time for another 5 years? Also I do pass the basics (us citizen, no non US citizens in my family, no living overseas)

    basically I would like to know is it possible to get a job in this sector? I have heard people say that if they want you bad enough they will clear you (which is why i am learning karsi and thinking to get into a top notch grad school) but have also heard that certain things can automatically disqualify you, do not pass go do not collect 200 dollars, no matter what your skills are. What is better, getting experience with work in a different sector and doing the national guard or grad school. does the arrest screw me til i die even if it is expunged and only an arrest and not a conviction? basically I would like help with a direction, this is maybe the hardest field to try to get advice but am committed to it even if it a 30 year process. Any feedback will earn my thanks, even if its bad news, at least i know i have to move on with my life.

    Thanks for taking the time to read!


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    I don’t know anything about ISSOs but I agree IA is a hot field right now. Until we reach the point where programming errors do not lead to privilege escalation/remote code execution/etc., there will be a growing need for cyber security professionals. Although Windows Vista is considerably more secure than past operating systems, IA will continue to be a critical need for many years to come.

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    As a previous Program Manager of SMART, at a DOD agency, I can say this is an excellent program to get into. The benefits of the program are second to none. Unfortunately, you do have valid concerns regarding the clearance process. Timing is everything! My best suggestion is to speak candidly with the SMART Program Administrators and ask them the specific questions that you have. Some agencies don’t require a TS but a Secret clearance which usually do not take as long to process. In our case, we had a few students that did not meet the ‘clearance deadline’ so they had to be reassigned to other agencies where possible. This is a fairly new program so it is evolving. Some corks need to be ironed out. Just do your homework and make sure you understand the clearance process and requirements for each agency. If an agency picks you up, keep in constant contact with your mentor. This should keep things moving along. Good luck. Should you have any other questions, you can contact me at [email protected].

    Good luck!

  16. Avatar


    Wrong board for this question, but sounds as if you were cited for refusal to submit. Is this the case? What was the citation for? If not charged with DUI why an alcohol eval? Just a few questions that need to be answered for an educated opinion. Also, go over to the Ask your vlearance wuestions part 13.

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    I am currently at a cusp. I do not know if I should take a Govy Job or a Defense Contractor Job. Currently I work for a Defense contractor and I am fairly young (mid/early 30’s) and I got an opportunity to work for the goverment. However, many individuals are telling me not to, since the Gov doesn’t pay that well. Well, the job that I will be receiving will pay me about %18 more then I am currently making. Now what are the benefits of a Contractor job over Goverment job and vice versa (I will be doing the same job but as a Govy instead of a Contractor).
    Which one will you choose and why?
    How easy is to jump back to a contractor side after working for a Gov?
    I am uncertain if I will be living in the same area for more then three years, therefore what’s easier to relocate to, Govy or Contractor? (aka Finding a job in a new area)
    Is the “Goverment jobs are for the lazy” stigma still around?

  18. Avatar

    Sorry few more.

    How easy is to get promoted on the NSPS payscale if I am in the 2nd band?
    Is it easy to jump bands?
    Is it easier to transfer to other jobs within the goverment once you are in the goverment?
    Do the NSPS provides regular raises or am I stuck with what I get hired?

  19. Avatar

    Hello all,

    I have wonderful news, I was just granted my clearance after a 5 month from start to finish investigation. I would like to thank all of the investigators who answered my questions to the best of their knowledge.

    To those who are still waiting keep your head up and leave it in Gods hands. Do not stress over it things happen for a reason

  20. Avatar


    I am unemployed but being considered for a position needing a TS/SCI clearance w/ a CI poly.

    My only blemish is that I am unfortunately 2 months behind on my Child support payments. If I get the job I will be able to catch up immediately.

    Could you get denied for something like that. I heard they are really hard on finances and will deny folks for current bills overdue by 90 days or more. I was considering bankruptcy but have heard you would not be eligilbe for a clearance if they get your sf86 before the bankruptcy is discharged.

    Thanks for any insight.


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    The language spoken in most of Iran is Farsi, not Karsi.

    Two years is not enough passage of time for possession of opium and regular use of marijuana. I would recommend waiting two more years.

    Your lawyer is wrong about not having to list the feloney offense on a security clearance application form. The question on the form about police record specifically addresses situations where case has been “sealed” or otherwise stricken from the court record. I don’t know what the requirement is for enlistment documents.

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    It depends on what you do in the government. A lot of jobs are in acquisition, so technical project management is the civilian equivalent. A Bachelor’s degree and meeting all required DAWIA certifications is a start. Eventually, a Master’s degree helps, but experience with contracts for services or materials is what places you in a position for promotion. Soft skills become important, since written and oral communications with both the contractors and upper management is essential for success.

    Engineering careers are essentially pay band 2, while management is pay band 3. You get the extra money for pay band 3 since you have responsibility for both the technical and financial areas of a project.

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    You may be 60 days behind now, but if by the time you complete the SF86 you are 90 days delinquent you will have to list it on your SF86. Depending on the past due amount you could be denied an interim clearance. If the job requires that you obtain a clearance before you can be hired, then you may have a long wait ahead of you. Final clearance denial for financial considerations depends on a multitude of factors. Recommend you read the three articles on this subject posted at

  24. Avatar

    If a current DOD employee has a valid security clearance, but is considering debt consolidation? Will they loose their security clearance, because of this consolication? Will they loose their job?

  25. Avatar


    If you are looking to lower monthly output, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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    I have been favorably adjudicated for a top-security clearance for an alternate position. The agency has taken its primary candidates so I am in limbo. Do you think they will place me within, do I just sit and wait. Odd, most people have the jobs and are awaiting approval for public trust, then here I am approved but searching for the job. Any advice will be appreciated. My current job has been rough since the Feds came in to investigate.

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    If you have a TS, branch out. Never wait for something that may or may not happen. You were an alternate and if they have given you nothing to show you have a job–move on to another cleared agency. There is no way of knowing what the agency will do. Take advantage of being cleared while you can. Of course, just my two-cents. Use this site and look for cleared job fairs as there are always several around the country.

  28. Avatar


    Thanks you for the quick reply. I’m searching the sites daily. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful (I’ve heard horror stories about the SSBI process) but alittle discouraged. I am proud that at least I was chosen for process. Fingers, legs and eyes crossed for a break. Thanks again and good luck to all with your careers.

  29. Avatar


    I would also recommend you tell people what type of work your skill sets are in. Many people on this site have a wealth of information and may guide you as well–Ask them for help. Remember, if you don’t ask–you don’t get. Good luck.

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    What happens if I quit a position while under investigation for Top Secret clearance?

    I just started with an entry-level (GS-07) job in the US intelligence community. Due to an internal reorganization, I am being moved to a different position than the one I was offered, and in a subject matter that I am not interested in. I am in an “interim secret” position right now and am still under investigation for “Top Secret” clearance.

    My question – if I move on to another job, will this affect any future career I have with the US government? (Especially because I quit during the probationary period). Also, what happens if I apply for a job (such as with a contractor) that requires a lower clearance, such as public trust? Does OPM look back on my TS investigation (favorably or not)?

    I plan to work for a year to a year-and-a-half for the government, then to return to graduate school. One of the reasons I am considering another position is because training for my current position takes well over a year.

    Thanks for your help!


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    Does anyone have a good source for federal contractor salary surveys, particularly with respect to clearances held by individuals and how they affect pay scales? There are lots of sources for open jobs, but not much detail on surveys (like, but for the government industry).

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    Check out our annual salary survey here –>

    Should give you all the information you are asking for.

  33. Avatar

    I currently am employed as a contractor, using my TS clearance. My last PR was spring/08. It was a SSBIPR.

    I used to have a TS/SCI (2000-02). I changed jobs in 2002 to a company where the SCI was not required.

    Occasionally I see positions requiring TS/SCI on various web sites. My question is, how much effort is involved by a new employer etc, in reinstating the SCI ? What kind of a wait time would I be looking at after starting a new job?


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    Not too much troublJust approval from appropriate authority. I have learned long ago in this business to never give estimated dates 🙂

  35. Avatar

    I have a question, 21 years ago when I was 18 I got a felony for theft and spent a couple months in jail for it. I have read that it should only affect me if it resulted in more than a year in jail, but I don’t know if that’s actually the case. That’s why I’m asking you guys about it. Also I recently was able to get the record sealed.

    My question is this, am I able to answer “no” to the question of have I ever had a conviction and if not, will the fact that it’s sealed help me at all?

    I am looking to get a contractor job doing IT for the Army in the middle east and am needing to be able to get a “secret” clearance.

    Any guidance you could give me on this will be greatly appreciated.


  36. Avatar


    21 years was a long time ago–What you have done since seems to be more important. Make sure you report the incident as an arrest record will no doubt show-up somewhere. You CANNOT and SHOULD NOT report “No” to the question. In my opinion, you will be fine with what you admitted to in the post. Press-on with the process. Also, double-check with the court to ensure it was actually a felony arrest. Good luck and as I have always said, better to tell the truth than to be caught in a lie–Anyway, you get my point.

  37. Avatar

    I hold a current TS/SCI security clearance with a CI Polygraph after spending 7 years in the Navy, and I’m now currently unemployed and taking college classes.

    What are some good websites to find jobs that will utilize my clearance?
    The main sites I have my resume on and check everyday are as follows:

    I’m looking for other sites to search, in hopes that I can find a job.
    Thank you in advance!

  38. Avatar

    I was a Former DOD Civilian employee, issued (LOI) for my personal conduct/criminal for non-criminal civil traffic infractions, the fines were all paid. I have numerous PDQ,s performance awards and great refrenece from my shop but doncaf and the adminstrative officers are giving my a line of bull, and im not getting any answers please help

  39. Avatar

    I need some information and advice. I will be retiring as a U.S. Probation Officer after twenty-two years of service. This is a law enforcement retirement at the age of fifty seven (the maximum length of service) and therefore I am not eligbile for other federal law enforcment careers. Because the majority of my career has been spent conducting investigations, I am interested in using my skills as a contract background investigator for OPM, a contractor or some other government agency. Prior to my employment with the federal courts, a complete FBI background investigtion was conducted and updated investigations were conducted over the years by either the OPM or its contract investigators. They were very thorough in that they visited or contacted friends and family back to to my childhood, viewed school/college records, etc., and investigated my spouse. I know the investigations conducted today are not the same because I have the opportunity to see the reports prepared by contract investigators. The Administrative Office of the U.S.Courts apparently does not give a particular security clearance such as secret or top secret to my position. How do I convert this to a S/TS clearance or can I even use the same background investigation? It seems silly have another investigation done when I have already been subjected to such scrutiny. Because I have worked for federal judges , there is no doubt that in my position I have had access to ALL KINDS of confidential information. Some of the information is quite unique. I know the OPM hires investigators and I am aware of their contractors. Does anyone have any other advice concerning where or how I may use my skills. I am too young for the rocking chair.

  40. Avatar

    Need Info and Advice:

    First, one of the most frustrating challenges that people with clearance face is the fact that movement between government agencies is often difficult and/or impossible. Rather than having one centralized database of Federal security clearances, there are separate databases that don’t “talk” to each other – there’s no reciprocity. Just because you have a clearance or background investigation from one Federal agency, doesn’t mean it automatically applies to another agency. The fact that you’ve had a background investigation most likely will not have any significant impact for finding employment outside of the federal courts system. To answer your question, you personally cannot “convert” your investigation to say, a DoD clearance or a DoE clearance.

    That said, you are still highly qualified for many investigation jobs. You’ll have to talk to the major contractors that perform background investigations for OPM to see if they can get you cleared quickly. Those companies are Kroll, USIS, CACI, and Mantech.

    Take the time to register on and post your resume. See links like:

    You might also try some of the job fairs that occur in your area if one of those companies are attending.

    Best of luck to you, and thanks for your Federal service.

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    I am up for renewal of a TS clearance. On the SF-86, it asks about having seen a psychologist but exempts marital/grief related issues. Would having seen a psychologist 4-5 times regarding a difficult relationship and ultimately breakup with the guy fall under the marital/grief exemption? I think it would but just wanted confirmation.

  42. Avatar

    Where can a retired serviceman with current TS/SCI and Battalion level security management skills, find employment with DONCAF in the Mid virginia area (Fredburg,Richmond areas)?

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    Cleared Jobs in Richmond, VA area

    Have you posted your resume at Hundreds of defense contractors look for cleared candidates there.

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    Not DONCAF, but with your background you should look at DTRA at Belvoir. I’m guessing you may get a line on some AT/FP work there. Thanks for your service.

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    Been interviewing a lot and companies always ask what salary I’m looking for.

    Can someone give me a ballpark figure for what someone with the following is worth:

    Washington D.C. area
    BS degree in Accounting
    Certified Public Accountant
    12 years total work experience
    11 years experience in PeopleSoft Financials

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    PeopleSoft – salary depends on your clearance level. Skilled PeopleSoft pros are hard to find with an active clearance. For a TS level, I’d ballpark $110-130k with your experience. For a Secret level, I’d ballpark $85-110k with your experience. Salaries in MD are generally slightly higher than those in DC or VA. Good luck!

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    Thanks. The company is applying for my TS/SCI clearance and offered a conditional offer of upper 90s. Is that fair since I don’t actually have the clearance yet?

    Who pays for the clerance? The consulting firm or their government client?

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    PeopleSoft – Upper 90s before a TS/SCI makes sense. Upper 90s after a TS/SCI doesn’t. Based on your stats, you’d most likely be over 100k when you have your clearance.

    That said, it is VERY difficult for people without clearance to find an employer that is willing to sponsor them for a clearance. I’d take this offer and run with it. You’ll be getting a good job with a high salary, plus the #1 career asset you can get – a clearance.

    Who pays for the investigation depends on whether or not the consulting firm is cleared themselves. If not, the government client would pay for it. If the consulting firm is cleared, they’d probably pay for it.

    Good luck!

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    This information is very valuable. Thanks so much!

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    I’ve made the list for a Paralegal position with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Judicial Branch. What does the background investigation consist of “credit” wise?