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Do You Have to Have a Security Clearance in Order to Be an Army Officer?

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Army officers carry a lot of responsibility with their duties, and some of their work requires access to classified information. As a result, the Army requires potential officers to pass a security clearance before entering into any officer training program. The clearance investigation looks at your personal history to determine whether you qualify for a clearance.

Condition of Appointment

U.S. Army regulations require a prospective officer to be granted a secret level of security clearance before attending any officer training program at a military academy, through ROTC or Officer's Training School. As part of the application procedure for any training program that will result in an officer's commission, you will complete the paperwork to start a background security check. Be accurate and complete on the form and do not try to predetermine whether some actions in your past will keep you from getting the security clearance.

Security Check Overview

The Army will send the background check form you complete to the correct agency to perform a Defense National Agency Check with Inquiries background check. The investigation for a security clearance covers a wide range of possible behaviors over the period of your life that will be scrutinized. On a DNACI, officials will verify the answers on your questionnaire up to five years ago or until your 18th birthday, but no less than two full years. Officials can follow any derogatory information they find as far back as your 16th birthday.


Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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