Study: Higher Pay for Arlington Workers with Clearance

by Katie Pyzyk February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1,840 28 Comments

Money (file photo)(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) As the threat of sequestration looms, government workers’ salaries are under the microscope. A new study suggests that although compensation for professionals with security clearance has dropped in most parts of the country, it’s a different story in Arlington.

According to a study by ClearanceJobs.com, security-cleared professionals across the country experienced a three percent drop in compensation in 2012, with total compensation averaging nearly $88,500. Arlington bucked the nationwide trend and instead experienced a three percent increase, bringing average total compensation to more than $106,100.

The study states, “The compensation gulf between those in the D.C.-metro area and other parts of the U.S. is widening.”

Workers at the CIA received the highest compensation, averaging about $121,400. Those at the Department of State came in second, averaging nearly $108,000. Both entities’ workers experienced about a two percent increase in compensation. NSA employees rounded out the top three at about $107,000, but didn’t see an increase.

Twenty-eight percent of Arlington security professionals reported concern over the possibility of losing contracts or funding. That’s only up two percentage points over the previous year, despite the current worries over possible pay cuts due to sequestration.

ClearanceJobs.com gathered data from more than 16,300 respondents in 29 states and the District of Columbia between October 30, 2012 and January 21, 2013. Participants had to have a current, active federal security clearance and be currently employed to be included in the results.

The study included an interactive map, which is available online, showing the average compensation for security professionals in each state.

  • NorthWestover
    • ph7

      Following my brother’s clearance review, the biggest concern of the reviewer was that a neighbor spotted my brother taking his trash out to the street in his underwear. The reviewer wanted an explanation.

      Another friend was randomly asked in his interview if he ever put peanut butter on his penis for a pet to lick. I don’t think that question is in the training manual.

      • tumblebum

        Are you allowed the share the answer to the peanut butter question? Many of us live our lives vicariously through Gummint background investigation results.

      • Odd Fetish

        “Another friend was randomly asked in his interview if he ever put peanut
        butter on his penis for a pet to lick. I don’t think that question is
        in the training manual.”

        I hope that your friend replied, “Of course…..doesn’t everyone ??

        • ph7

          My reaction when I heard this was:

          1. Either the interviewer must have tried this before to dream up such a question, or

          2. this is a common practice of government workers of which I was surprisingly unaware

          • ACDC Hack

            “this is a common practice of government workers”

            Only at the double digit GS levels……..

      • Chunky or smooth?

    • Kidding, right?

      I read the Post articles you link to. A whole four hours of paperwork and a bit of security theater during the interview isn’t worth the thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in salary premium that comes with a clearance? Divided by four, lemme see, how many thousand dollars an hour does that one afternoon of hassle work out to?

      • NorthWestover

        I sure don’t make an extra tens of thousands for this, it sure would be nice though. And while the paperwork might have taken four hours, finding my late father in laws’ citizenship papers from the 1930’s this round took far longer, and he was dead long before I met my wife. Convinceing the last inspector that my own dad’s papers from the 1950s was legit even though the document number was nothing like the numbers on a citizenship paper today was also fun since the document says that it can not be copied and was halfway across the country at the time. One of our one man shop contractors has held a clearanc efor longer than I have been alive and has to pay out of his pocket tens of thousands every five years for his to be done. There should be an easier/cheaper way to do this as Mr. Hamre so well states.

  • Hugh Jass

    “The compensation gulf between those in the D.C.-metro area and other parts of the U.S. is widening.”

    So is the cost of living.

    Makes perfect sense.

  • Ashton Heights Represent

    Is it too early to complement the new comment system? Useful comments seem to rise to the top, and the tone of the conversation is eminently more constructive.

    • Hokie

      The only issue I have with it is that the new interface is blocked at my office- I can read stories but it now says No Comments on every story… oh well!

  • The CIA is operated by an international banking cartel and does not work in the best interests of the United States of America. That is all.

  • Volo

    it’s not accurate to say that all employees with a security clearance are “security professionals”. Cleared individuals work in many fields,
    with security only one of them. I just mention it because the article is inconsistent in how it uses these terms…

  • realreform

    Hmmmmm…… and we wonder why we are running $1 Trillion + USD deficits annually?

    • chciken chef

      no we don’t…..it’s obviously because we refuse to end a set of tax cuts that were implemented when, and because we had a surplus.

      • realreform

        That’s it; it’s always a tax problem, never a spending problem. You must have never worked in government. They have 10 people doing the exact same thing in every position. It is completely ridiculous and wasteful. CIA employees do not deserve anywhere near 121K a year in salary. Maybe more like 12K a year in salary (even in the DC area) is more in line with their line of work and competence and intelligence levels.

        • Deserve?

          121K is what the market determines. Don’t you belive in the market? are you a communist?

          • realreform

            It’s a FAKE market. It’s called crony-capitalism. YOU seem like a communist. Sure you can tax the heck out of regular ordinary citizens working real private industry jobs and then create fake wars that need fake “private” contractor companies, such as CACI, Boeing, Northrup Grumman and SAIC. They are not really capitalists. They are actually simply government subsidized industries just like in China.

            That is also why we had a housing bubble. You just create a thing called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and government insure loans and then all of a sudden you have created a fake market that leech private industries jump on and start giving out loans to people who do not deserve them which fakely inflates the costs of homes and causes a bubble which inevitably has to crash.

            That is also why education is so expensive. You just create a thing called FAFSA and give out generous loans and grants to Americans (who usually never pay them back anyway) and then all of a sudden you have influxed the system with all of this fake liquid capital and then the schools start inflating the costs of tuition because they know there is the money out there to snag.

            We have gotten so far away from true capitalism that people do not even know what it looks like anymore. If we had true capitalism and did not bail out companies that were “too big to fail” and subsidize everything with government handouts, then maybe we would actually have a thriving and successful economy again.

          • realreform

            Of course I believe in Market Capitalism, not Crony Capitalism, which government subsidized “contractor” companies are. They are not true capitalists. They are simply fed government subsidies that ultimately came from the taxpayers.

  • Volo

    Format got all wonky in earlier post, so more readable repost here
    Maybe it’s nitpicking, but it’s not accurate to say that all employees with a security clearance are “security professionals”. Cleared individuals work in many fields,
    with security only one of them. I just mention it because the article is inconsistent in how it uses these terms… End nitpicking.

  • Ballstonian

    Ditto on cost of living and very valid point, Tampa or Huntsville (large DoD presence outside DC metro are about half the cost of living here or less – you’d be amazed what you can buy for $100K, $200K there – it’s eye watering).

    And by the way, it’s not our fault the security clearance process/eligibility creates an artificial/actual supply demand problem of qualified individuals to work these areas i.e. contractors (Booz Allen/CSC/whomever) have to compete for their services at a higher rate than in an uncleared profession. Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics book explains this very well.

    This article is unclear though on whether they’re talking GS or CTR salaries (government workers’ means to me both GS and CTR), or maybe my reading comprehension level is sub par. If its referring to CTR salaries, of course there’s a short-supply/high demand for cleared persons. Go find me a slough of masters degrees in Computer Science who have easy background investigations, i.e. born here, no foreign affiliations, and overall upstanding citizen, oh yeah, don’t already work for that agency as a GS. Hate to say it, but you probably won’t.

    Hell, I wish every year there was a free agent market set up for people who have the tickets to the highest clearance levels to shop their services out to the highest bidder a la Booz Allen, CSC, NGC, Lockheed, etc. Granted this probably happens de facto any way if the individual has half a brain. Though maybe there’s a market there to be a ‘clearance agent’ like a sports agent…

  • Curly Tail

    There are so many flaws in this data. They may post the data of GS jobs from the “pay range”, but no one knows what the actual metrics in the data is. Furthermore, unless you’re in the IT part of the IC… all the contractors across the IC halls usually socialize in the hallways and are some 22-25 year old UVA/UNC grad who learned about insurgency in a classroom. I don’t see the utility in them. The cancellation fees they build into the contracts are ridiculous. The best part is when they have the creepy “senior consultants” (i.e 29 yr old 2nd Tier MBA grads) with them.

    Remember, the motto of Booze and others:


  • Buckingham Bandit

    LOL says all of us govvies who are getting a 20% pay cut.

    • You guys already make 20%+ more than your private sector counterparts…so no tears for you

      • drax

        No they don’t.

  • Evan Lesser

    Full survey results show differences in geography as well as contractor versus gov employee, by clearance level, etc. http://www.clearancejobs.com/files/salary.html


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