Breaking Into Defense Without a Clearance

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Derrick T. Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, is a career counselor who specializes in government job searches and military transitions. This is adapted from a recent chat at

Columbia: How do I enter the defense contracting field without a clearance?

Derrick T. Dortch: This is very difficult but not impossible. First let me suggest that you do a search not only for defense contracting jobs but, more importantly, actual federal jobs within the Defense Department. Government contractors usually want you to have a clearance already, but federal agencies will give you a clearance after they hire you. For federal agencies, you can get a position and get your clearance and after a few years decide if you want to become a contractor.

With defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton or CSC, I suggest you look for positions that are called "clearable." These are positions where they would love for a person to have a clearance, but for the right person they will bring them aboard and clear them.

Do note that when they are looking for clearable people they are looking for someone who can get through the security clearance process without any red flag popping up. Make sure your financial, criminal and other personal matters are in order.

Tustin, Calif.: Does the government hire people older than 65?

Yes, the federal government does hire people who are older than 65. There is no age discrimination as it relates to hiring people. The only positions that have age restrictions are usually law enforcement or operational jobs in the areas of national security and intelligence.

Online Discussion: Derrick Dortch's next live chat will be a 11 a.m. March 4. Go to

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