Career AdviceSecurity Clearance Jobs

Salaries for Security-Cleared Job Seekers Increase

The newest Security Clearance Salary Survey reports average nationwide salaries are up by 2% since the first quarter of this year. The survey of about 2,200 cleared workers also lists a few other interesting findings:

  • Salaries for the lowest level Department of Defense-issued clearance, Confidential, had the greatest gain this quarter, with the average salary rising 13.5 percent to $52,000
  • The average salary in the Washington D.C. metro area declined nearly ten percent since the first quarter to $73,428
  • Security cleared professionals in Iraq continue to be rewarded with higher than average pay, as salaries rose 6.4 percent to $98,387 this quarter
  • Security-cleared women narrowed the salary gender gap by 3.75 percent since the first quarter, but they still earn approximately 12 percent less than their male counterparts
  • IT management positions top the list of highest paying job titles with security-cleared IT executives earning $111,578 and security-cleared project managers earning $99,322

It is good to see DC area salaries leveling off a bit. Perhaps the era of $20k signing bonuses and free BMWs is coming to a close. Click for full security clearance salary survey results.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    Can I cite this report when I ask for my next pay raise? :O)

  2. Avatar

    “The average salary in the Washington D.C. metro area declined nearly ten percent since the first quarter to $73,428.”

    Can this be right?? How/Why?

    Is this due to homeowners in DC cashing in on the housing boom by moving elsewhere?

    At the same time, are non-homeowners leaving because owning a house looks bleak?

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    The DC area has been over-inflated for a while. The almost 10% drop really shows that some sense is coming back into salary levels. Its akin to the 90’s dot-com boom where companies were being sold for way beyond their real worth. In this case, DC area salaries are coming to a more “real” level. How many BMWs and $30k signing bonuses have you seen advertised of late? Seems employers are getting some of their lost footing back!

  4. Avatar

    What is your definition of over-inflated?
    A decent single family home in the DC area in a decent neighborhood costs ATLEAST $500K or $600K. The rule of thumb for buying a house is 2 to 2.5 of your annual salary. Even if I was making $180K a year I would still be living in a townhouse.

    How many people with clearances are being laid off or asked to take pay cuts because of a “inflated salary”? I know of one person in the whole industry. His company has not been doing so well, and he will soon take a job with better pay anyway.

    Demand still exceeds supply.

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    Over-inflated means getting paid not just more than you are worth, but far more than you are worth. I’ve personally seen more than a few candidates get job offers of $x from one defense contractor, and then turn around and ask for $x plus $10k from a competitor, then go back to the original offerer and ask for even more. At what point does the inflation stop, or is this just effective salary negotiation?

    Demand definitely still exceeds supply.

    Not sure I agree with your 2 to 2.5 theory. According to Fannie Mae’s website, someone earning $180k can afford an $800k house. If both spouses work professionally in the DC area, its not uncommon to bring in well over $200k per year. Hey, some townhouses in DC, MD, and VA go for $500k+!

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    I don’t think that contractors are getting overpaid — I believe the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WORKERS are UNDERPAID!!!!

    I have literally DOUBLED my salary in two years thanks to my growing clearance credentials!!!

    As a man who is the only one working in my home, I am very underpaid. Our economy should allow families to live on a single income. We used to be able to do it many years ago but the rate at which salaries are growing is FAR LESS than inflation!

  7. Avatar

    Quoting Randy:

    “Our economy should allow families to live on a single income.”

    Amen – but will we ever get back to this state of affairs? Hasn’t been this way in a while.

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    I can’t speak for the BMW’s but I do know Lockheed is giving $25,000 signing bonuses. (go to, click on careers, event schedules, experienced professionals)

    The 2 to 2.5x rule is indeed questionable, and yes, you probably wont lose sleep at night making $180K a year. However, the report says the average cleared salary in the DC area (MD, DC, VA) is about $75K. If $180K can buy a $800K house, a $75K would buy a $333K house.

    The bottom line is I don’t think contractor salaries are over-inflated if the average cleared worker cannot afford to buy a decent house and support a family.

    As for the 10% drop in salaries, how did this happen?
    Did a lot of people get laid off? A lot of Baby boomers retire?

  9. Avatar

    Looking at the survey, its for ALL jobs, not just a small subset. I’m assuming that includes high level project managers all the way down to entry level admin assistants and HVAC techs. The job board that ran the survey offers a wide range of positions (I’m a registered member). I’ve seen postings for everything from PHd level scientists to a chef for the White House cooking staff. Guess not everyone is making the big bucks..

  10. Avatar

    Oh and to quote from the Lockheed website:

    “Certain positions requiring Full Scope Polygraph clearance will be eligible for up to a $25,000 signing bonus in addition to a competitive offer and world class benefits.”

    Keywords are CERTAIN positions, not all. On average, I’d guess 99% of new Lockheed employees in the next year won’t see a $25k signing bonus.

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    All this talk of $25k signing bonuses is making my head spin. I obtained a high-level clearance for an internship but it wasn’t defense or tech-related. As a result, it almost seems completely useless for someone without 5-10 years of experience (in intelligence, for example) and who has a degree in the social sciences (ie political science). Can this be true? It doesn’t make sense to me, but after moving to the area expecting for the clearance to pay off, to my surprise, most places don’t seem to care about a clearance at all. Maybe in research?

  12. Avatar

    Help !! I have a T/S security clearance, and a Q clearance with 8 yrs. federal govt. experience in administration., good evaluations etc. Currently a GS-7 , making 40k peryr.(dead-end position) need to make $ more, where do I go?

  13. Avatar

    Gov. Worker and Jon,

    Send your email addreses to [email protected] and they will forward those addressed to me outside of the public eye.

    I beleive I have your solution.

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    Does anyone know when all of the jobs are coming to the Ft. Meade are? Who will be hiring, and how to find out more information on the hiring for both contractors and DOD agencies? I myself and many of my coworkers have clearances and are ready to take positions closer to our homes in Howard and A.A counties. When will companies spread out their operations out of the traffic clogged DC suburbs , such as Northern VA. at least the FBI is planning on building large complex in Winchester VA.

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    I heard the Hoover building is going to be closed and the work is going to be moved out to Manassas. Can anyone confirm or deny?

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    The only reason one might want to move the FBI to Manassas, would be to control digital surveillance and listening devices. I’d assume its tougher to protect against that in the city than in suburbia. Also, wouldn’t all agencies be better off closer to each other for the ability to meet without having to fight DC traffic?

  17. Avatar

    The FBI building in Manassas area is being planned for the move of FBI staff from the Tyson area. Out of leased buildings to government specific buildings.

    As for contractor pay I just need to state that I am new to the world of being a contractor to the Feds, but the pay is average and the work environment is great.

  18. Avatar

    Any word on when the FBI will be moving to Winchester and who (contract companies) will be hiring? On that note, does anybody know of any good cleared jobs in the Winchester, Leesburg or Front Royal area?

  19. Avatar

    Yes, Lockheed is giving out 25K bonuses. I will be receiving on.

    I was laid off a few months ago, and I had at TS/Full Scope Poly with a grad degree in engineering. Myself along with 30 other people were laid off b/c the contract came to an end with no follow on work. My previous employer only had 1 contract, and that was the resaon.

    Going to jobfairs both in Md and Va, I was told by recruiters that monies are tight with all agencies. So, these contractors were there just to collect resumes. Pay is higher in Va though.

  20. Avatar

    everyone with clearances, demand higher pay! Keep raising the bar for salaries of cleared people. Job hop if you have to. If you live in the washington area and you’ve missed the “housing boat” you will need to make atleast $150K a year to support a family.

  21. Avatar

    I am currently an active duty Naval Flight Officer with a TS/SCI clearance, an undergrad in Business Admin and will be transferring to a shore job involving weapons testing project management soon . I plan on finishing an MBA, retiring at the end of that tour and am curious on what my experience translates to in terms of job market value/salary. Thanks.

  22. Avatar

    with the TS you can finaly call the shots. But only if you force them to compete. some of my friends don’t make as much as me….simply because I negotiate.
    1-NEVER reveal your current rate.
    2-Never throw out the first number.
    3-Be ready to use your ONLY super power…your walk away power.
    4-Keep interviewing. More offers mean more$$$ easily the difference between making 85 k and busting into the 120 realm. MAKE THEM PAY THE 120+.
    Go to and WITNESS what they bill the gov’t on your behalf.
    Finaly don’t get hosed on matching, vesting or health care. You can still walk away before you’re first day on the job.
    Do this and we all win. Otherwise the greedy companies will give all the bonuses, award fees and huge salaries to many layers of management. Thanks for reading. Hold your ground.

  23. Avatar

    Clarece, good points!

    Gov. worker, some agencies expected to be hiring in the Ft. Meade are as follows: NSA, continually; with the BRAC in 2010 — DISA, JTF-GNO, some Pentagon shops and others who are in expensive, leased space or $ special requirements types of facilities. Also, much will be changing further south at Ft Belvoir, VA with losses and gains. NGA is building at Ft Belvoir, while DISA is building on post at Ft Meade, MD. Bottom line: there will be no shortage of Fed Employee/Contractor jobs in either “close to DC” area; check now and you just might discover a job with telecommuting options right now.

    Good luck!

  24. Avatar

    I am currently a 35 series in the army with a TS/SCI. I am about to leave for IRAQ and after my tour I will ETS. I was wondering what type of contracting job I could get and how much do they pay?

  25. Avatar

    Can someone tell me how to refuse revealing current salay to potential employers? I’ve been interviewing for few months now and all potential employers require me to submit application and reveal salary history include current one before coming to the interview. If I refuse to do so, they refuse to interview me. I have TS/SCI clearance and they interview me for TS/SCI positions.(I’ve started interviewing before I got laid off).

    I believe the salary drops in DC area for cleared profesional not because it was over inflated before but it is due to more competition. Contractors used to be able to charge federal government much higher G&A rate, made lot more money in the old day. With a fierce market competition nowaday due to the ever increasing number of government contractor companies in this area, the G&A rate is much lower now to a minimum and company are force to cut costs, lower the salary where they can to stay competitive.

    Only hard to find skills and hard to find clearance be able to name your price and are in great demand. For myself and my co-workers who got laid off from previous job, it took my friend 4 months to land a job and I am still looking after 5 months. We both have almost 15 years experience in the field finance/contract/accounting + TS/SCI clearance + BS degree. I do received offers however, they all contigent upon contract wining. Employer today don’t want to offer jobs before they are sure that they have jobs themself.

    Things have changed!

  26. Avatar

    Lest not forget that when Obama wins; a large number of DoD and Intel contracts are likely to be cancelled or reduced in order to pay for his social programs he has been promising. Which means a lot of high-paying will be gone and the reverse will occur, supply of cleared people will exceed number of jobs. Which means that when the recompetes occur for the remaining contracts, the contractors will reduce the offer salaries as they compete for fewer and fewer contracts.