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When the disclosure of sensitive information threatens to put the country in grave danger, U.S. employers require workers to obtain top secret clearances. According to The Washington Post, as many as 4 million workers possessed top secret clearances in 2013. This clearance is the highest of three levels. A top secret clearance, which requires a background check, provides an employer with the assurance that an employee will not share sensitive information with unauthorized individuals. If you wish to work in a field that gives workers access to sensitive information, you need to know which jobs require a top secret clearance.
Intelligence Contractor Jobs
Government intelligence contractors must hire workers with top secret clearance for jobs that provide access to secure information. Employees with jobs as intelligence analysts, translators, facility security officers and computer systems administrators and hardware and software engineers may need top secret clearances, but the list also may include less obvious positions. The Washington Post says 500,000 private contractor employees had a top secret security clearance in 2013, and they included package handlers and other employees performing jobs not requiring access to secure information. Intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton had more than 10,000 employees with top secret clearances.
Defense Contractor Jobs
The U.S. Department of Defense issues most security clearances. Many of the clearances are given to defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin. The Department of Defense requires top secret clearances for jobs that require access to secure information. For defense contractor jobs, this information may relate to arms, weaponry, military vehicles, fighter jets and defense technologies and programs. Electrical and aeronautical engineers, factory production workers, weapons system designers, test pilots and computer software engineers are among the kinds of defense contractor jobs that may require top secret clearances.
Some U.S. military jobs require soldiers to obtain top secret clearances. Soldiers need it if their work exposes them to secure information. In many cases, the secure information relates to field observations during highly secretive missions and operations. For example, the Department of Defense may require U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Special Forces and military translators to have top secret clearance for intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance missions. High-ranking military personnel, such as captains and commanders, need top secret clearances to perform their jobs, too. The military identifies soldiers' jobs by their MOS, or Military Occupation Specialty code. Each MOS has specific requirements, and the requirements usually include whether a soldier requires a special clearance for the position.
U.S. government workers have approximately 56 percent of all top secret clearances. Most of these individuals work jobs in defense and intelligence. The Washington Post reports that 1,271 government organizations work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in 10,000 locations across the United States. Among them are the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Administration. Many of these workers intercept communications by terrorists, track the transfer of money to and from terrorist networks, spy on foreign governments, U.S. citizens and terrorists and plan, coordinate and carry out operations, including overt and covert military actions.
- The Washington Post: About 500,000 Private Contractors Have Access to Top-Secret Info
- The Washington Post: Top Secret Clearance Holders So Numerous They Include ‘Packers/Craters’
- Professional Overseas Contractors: Security Clearance 101: Number of Contractors With Security Clearances
- Cleared Connections: About Us
- Dice: Security Clearance Frequently Asked Questions
Based in Central Florida, Ron White has worked as professional journalist since 2001. He specializes in sports and business. White started his career as a sportswriter and later worked as associate editor for Maintenance Sales News and as the assistant editor for "The Observer," a daily newspaper based in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. White has written more than 2,000 news and sports stories for newspapers and websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.
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