Security-Cleared Workers Making Nearly $100K on Average

by ARLnow.com March 20, 2012 at 11:00 am 13,618 47 Comments

According to a leading jobs website for those with security clearances, the average security-cleared employee in the Washington region earned $97,838 in 2011.

ClearanceJobs.com says that figure represents a 4 percent increase from one year ago. By comparison, the national average security-cleared salary was $76,152 in 2011. According to the website’s survey, there was no pay gap between men and women working in the same position.

Though average salaries may be high, security-cleared workers are increasingly worried about the future. The survey — of 11,000 security-cleared professionals — indicated that 43 percent were afraid of the loss of contract funding, 40 percent were afraid of increased work loads as a result of staff cuts, 38 percent were afraid of their position being eliminated, and 31 percent worried about their position being relocated, perhaps as a result of BRAC.

  • CrystalMikey

    Golden ticket…for now.

  • DSS10

    There are way too many clearances issued and way too many secret facilities. This would be a good time to get rid of the redundancy in organizations and focus on quality as opposed to quantity of analysis.

    • WeiQiang

      Honorable goal, but won’t happen. There are too many money/power incentives in play to improve transparency, cost-effectiveness, and/or accountability. DHS, DoD and State thrive on the inefficiencies that “require” them to create large bureaucracies and contractor infrastructure to achieve their “missions”.

      • DSS10

        Its hiding behind a classified operations that causes a lack of transparency both with in the government and to the public.

        No don’t know what you don’t know and they will never tell you any way…..

  • R. Griffon

    > By comparison, the national average security-cleared salary was $76,152

    I’m surprised that the difference isn’t greater. DC’s cost of living (and real estate/rent in particular) is WAY higher than national averages, and I’d think by a wider margin. Perhaps the vast majority of cleared workers nationwide tend to only live and work in major metro areas where living costs (and thus salaries) are also elevated?

    • Josh S

      It’s 28% higher which is in line with every estimate I’ve ever seen of how much higher DC’s cost of living is compared to the national average. And yes, your last sentence certainly factors in. You won’t find much need for security clearance jobs in East Bumbleburg, Tennessee, for example.

      • drax

        Is that near Oak Ridge, Tenneessee?

  • E

    They do not do much to earn that 100K. I used ti be a contractor before I got in to Financial Planning. In between all the fantasy football, espn, and other online distractions a contractor from the 3 sites I worked at maybe does about 3 hours of work a day, tops. Small Government, slim contractors too!

    • WeiQiang

      I think you’re pretty close to truth there. Not to mention that, in DoD, contractors are often retired military with pensions. A system that incentivizes clearances will generate more classified info.

    • Quoth the Raven

      “They” are a pretty large group, and you’re throwing a lot of people under the bus here. So here’s my personal anecdote – the contractors with whom I work are absolutely dedicated to their jobs and they work their asses off. And it’s a pretty large group. I’m sure there are plenty of contractors, and plenty of financial planners, who are useless. But there are also an awful lot of good folks out there who are doing a good job.

    • Autoexec.bat

      There are slackers in every office, contractors or not. My wife is cleared and a contractor and works hard for her money. She ends up doing a lot of the cleared work that “career” employees don’t want to do. In the Intelligence Community, there are just as many USG employees who are the slackers while the contractors do the actual work. It cuts both ways.

      She has always said that while being a contractor is good money, if you’re going to be in it for any length of time, going to work on the gov’t side is the better long-term career move. The important thing is that clearance though. She’ll never be out of work in this town for more than 15 minutes.

      • Courthouse Res

        I second Autoexec. I worked in the government for 3+ years, and now I’m a contractor. It defintely cuts both ways. I think it is worse in the government though. I encountered way more unmotivated and entitled employees in the government. People literally said (TO MANAGEMENT!), “Oh, x more years until retirement, I’m not doing anything. I am just waiting it out.”

      • Smar-Tee

        And MY wife is a cleared federal employee who works her ass off.

        Look, there are lazy people in every organization, every type of employment. Are there lazy federal employees? Yeah. Lazy contractors? Sure. But it’s not fair to group with the slackers those who give their level best, whether contractors or feds.


          There are more lazy Feds. Contractors who don’t perform get fired.

          I became a Fed a little over a year ago and the system is all screwed up. It is so hard to fire people, and lazy/unmotivated people know that very well and work every angle to there advantage.

          The hiring process is flawed, and the rules/regulations regarding firing inefficient or bad employees are the biggest problem.

          It makes other fed employees, like myself, angry to see them giving us a bad name, not to mention see them make the same pay for doing a lot less.

          The federal employees union just protect the lowest common denominator of people and do a disservice to those of us who are dedicated and hard working.

    • CrystalMikey

      Yeah, way to generalize there buddy.

    • drax

      Did they sit around and post comments on ArlNow all day?

    • Loggie

      “They” Is your experience based on one job? What to roll everyone on the bus. It doesn’t sound like you know what you’re talking about making a generalization like that. You have slackers in all offices, public sector and private sector. Please, let’s not assume that everyone with a security clearance is some sort of a slacker.


      Funny, I’ve found the exact same thing to be true of the GS employees… “Not my problem” seems to be their motto.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Welcome to the world that the rest of the non-federal workforce has been living in for the last 20 years.

  • Transplant

    100K is not that much money.

    • DSS10

      If you moved to Arlington in that last 5 years and don’t own a house that’s a hard fact.

    • Autoexec.bat

      In my experience if you have a college degree, can complete a coherent sentence in English and have a TS/SCI clearance, 100K is the minimum you should be asking for regardless of experience.

      If we’re also lumping in people with Secret clearances then forget it. Those are worthless.

      • JamesE

        My current employer (a ffrdc) is losing a lot of people because they refuse to pay cleared employees more (they say it is unfair to non cleared personal), I think they are starting to take the hint.

        • Dumb Employer

          We don’t pay college graduates more because it’s unfair to those with only a high school diploma.

          • DSS10

            Hey if you have a TS/SCI and life style poly you can’t: smoke pot, drink excessively, be promiscuous, get charged with a crime (quota or not), get excessive points on your licence (quota or not), start and finish a bar fight, visit countries with a different alphabet than here, have an intimate relationship with a foreign national with out reporting it to your security officer (married or not), or use “social networks” (this might have changed from when I had mine).

            I’d ask for some extra money….

          • JamesE

            I know a lot of people charged with and convicted of crimes but they all admitted to and reported them. That part is usually blown out of proportion assuming it is not a felony conviction. I think they have also relaxed the traffic fines/points one as well ever since VA started ramping up the penalties.

          • DSS10

            Committing a felony or any crime while holding a TS/SCI let alone a DOE or “other” clearance gets you fish bowled real quick and the longer your there the less chance you will get back.

          • Autoexec.bat

            Some of this is right, some has definitely changed. You can use social networks and you can travel freely for the most part as long as it’s reported and approved ahead of time. Close and continuing contact with a foreign national is usually not advised but is not necessarily always a no-go.

            The big one that inconveniences me and my wife is not being able to take a cell phone to the office. That alone is worth another $10k per year as far as I am concerned.

          • Courthouse Res

            Hahahaha, funniest thing ever. Almost all of those things are huge misconceptions. The drugs? Yes, definitely a no go. If the crime is a felony, you’ll probably also get canned. The foreign national also depends where they’re from as in Somalia vs. United Kingdom.

          • JamesE

            One site I had to go to in Suitland, MD encouraged use of the metro yet they only had about 25-50 lockers for cellphones and this was in 2008. I am sure it would really hurt them to install more because people did not want to metro down there without a phone.

          • drax

            Can they talk to the foreign nationals in Donaldson Run?

          • Smar-Tee

            Pretty sure you can visit Japan, Israel, Greece (OK, so its alphabet is sort of the basis of ours), S. Korea, Germany (four extra letters in its alphabet–does that count?), etc. But your larger point is a good one.

          • really?

            My fraternity brother put more stuff up his nose in college than Charlie Sheen and he got a top secret clearance.

            he still drinks excessively and does ‘blow’ from time to time.

            So it’s not everyone.

          • drax

            I once knew a 2 or 3 bong hit a day guy with a clearance.

      • Courthouse Res

        Really?! Man, I need to quit my job then and go somewhere that’s going to give me a significant increase!

        • Autoexec.bat

          You’d better shop around.

    • Wal-Mart Worker

      Sounds like a lot to me.

    • Josh S

      Well, obviously experiences vary, but $100,000 per year for one person will put you in the top 10% if not 5% nationwide. So I’d be careful about claiming that it’s not a lot of money.

  • Mitt Romney

    That’s really not very much money

    • Mitt Romney too

      But I’d fire them anyway…..

  • Always Right

    This must be the average. All the Security Clearance people I know (approx. 57) are making $157-160k in DC. Thank you for “increase the size of govt”

    • Osama bin Laden

      No problemo, dude.

    • Josh S

      An odd factoid. You know 57 people that all make within $3,000 of each other?

  • PUP

    jeez i knew i was underpaid but not by that much. wow.

  • john

    It’s called contracting because you work on contracts throughout your career. Of course 1 contract wont last forever, its a high risk high reward field. Get used to it, or find a new job.

  • Bob

    As the first post said…It’s the Golden Ticket for now. It will be interesting to just see how long it will last since budget cuts are coming for everyone…


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