Federal security agencies or hired contractors from other security agencies that work at the national level with the federal government in the United States abide by three main types of security clearance levels. Not every job in the federal government requires security clearance. Rather, many of these security clearance levels pertain to jobs in a federal security agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and so forth.
Certain information and areas can be accessed depending on the security clearance level, and the requirements for security officers or individuals who are granted these clearances are extremely strict.
The Three Main Security Levels in Federal Security Agencies
The three main security levels in a federal security agency are:
- Top Secret
From the three types of security clearances, it should be apparent that Top Secret is the highest level of security clearance within a federal security agency and usually involves highly-sensitive classified information. This information has to be safeguarded, as the health of the nation is at stake if it were to get into the wrong hands.
Security Clearance Requirements
In determining who is eligible or not eligible for a security clearance, the Bureau of Human Resources oversees this matter for federal security agencies. Requirements vary depending on the specific position, the particular federal security agency, and the nature of the information, but in general, the overall requirements are:
- Must be a United States citizen;
- Have to have specific training and/or expertise for the position;
- Must have a full background check conducted.
Unlike for most normal job positions, the background check that federal security agencies will conduct on a person applying for a position with any of these security clearance levels is far more extensive. It will not just involve a criminal background check, but instead, will also look at a person’s social circle, past drug/alcohol use, mental health, foreign influences, and any types of sexual misconduct that may have occurred. In addition, while this is not always the case, background checks might also be conducted on the applicant’s family members. In the post-9/11 world, the federal government has become far more thorough in how it conducts its background checks and leaves very little to chance.
Most applicants who apply for one of these positions have to be recommended by someone else first, rather than simply being able to apply normally. These positions are usually not open to the general public.
If an applicant is denied security clearance for the position within the federal security agency, he or she will be able to file an appeal if the person feels as if the denial was not based on any sufficient evidence. Often times, however, the federal security agency will try to clarify anything with the applicant before the denial, such as questioning the person about something that came up during the background check.