You don't need a security clearance to get a federal job
Derrick T. Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, is a career counselor who specializes in government job searches and military transition. This is adapted from a recent chat at washingtonpost.com.
Fredericksburg: It seems that many federal jobs call for a security clearance to even be considered. My question is: How does a regular civilian go about getting one?
Derrick Dortch: Let me clear up a myth: There are no federal jobs with federal government agencies that require you to have a security clearance to apply and get that job. I get this question often, and many people will stop looking for federal employment because they believe this.
For federal government positions that require security clearances, if you are deemed to be the best candidate, you will get a "conditional offer of employment." This offer is conditional because you first have to go through the clearance process and possibly other things, depending on the agency. The agency will go about doing a background investigation and determe your suitability for a clearance. This is also the case with the military. If your position requires a clearance, then they will also vet you.
The positions that you probably see that do require clearances are positions with government contractors. Many contractors will require a person to have a clearance because they want to get someone who can begin working right away. This does not mean that government contractors will not hire people without clearances; many are now opening up and beginning to look for clearable candidates. This means that they see that a person has nothing in her background that would prevent her from getting a clearance rather quickly.
If you are looking for work with government contractors that are asking for cleared candidates, look to see whether they have any clearable jobs. Booz Allen Hamilton does this. If you look on the contractor's job site, you will see a check box for "clearable," and you can pull up the jobs that fit this category.