As a cyber security professional, having an active Security Clearance makes you a far more attractive candidate to prospective employers than those who don’t. In the UK, you cannot apply for Security Clearance as an individual. Your clearance needs to be requested by a sponsored employer and is subsequently carried out by government agencies. However, once obtained, Security Clearance can be verified and transferred to a new employer.
Why do I need Security Clearance?
Having Security Clearance indicates to an employer and government officials that at the current point in time, you are suitable to have trusted access to sensitive information. If your employer has been contracted by an agency such as the central government or the Ministry of Defence, you may need Security Clearance to work on specific classified projects.
As a cyber security professional, you may be required to help protect certain classified information from data breaches and security threats. The more sensitive the information you’re protecting, the more rigorous the Security Clearance process. A Security Check, required for individuals who need to gain access to SECRET or occasionally controlled access to TOP SECRET assets, can take between one and three months to process. Therefore, it’s far more appealing for employers to hire someone with a pre-existing Security Clearance to avoid delays.
What is required to obtain Security Clearance?
To receive a full Security Check clearance, there are number of personal background checks that will have to be carried out before the process is completed. A full security check involves the following:
- Departmental / company records check
- A Baseline Personal Security Standard (BPSS) – this is normally carried out as part of the recruitment process
- Criminal record check
- Credit reference check
- Security Service check
- Security questionnaire
Normally, you’ll need to have been a resident of the UK for a minimum of five years, and the company sponsoring your application will need to be ‘List X accredited’.
If you need the highest level of Security Clearance, you’ll need to undertake a Developed Vetting process rather than just a Security Check. As well as the processes required by a Security Check, for Developed Vetting you’ll also have your personal finances reviewed, a check of provided medical and psychological information, a Developed Vetting specific security questionnaire and an interview supported by character references. The process can take up to nine months to complete, so if you already have this level of Security Clearance, it can be very beneficial to potential employers.
When will my Security Clearance expire?
Security Clearance is only granted for a limited period, usually depending on the employment term or the length of a specific project. However, if you have a longstanding Security Clearance, security checks are generally reviewed every 10 years and Developed Vetting checks tend to be reinvestigated after five years.
All clearances are kept under review and could therefore be subject to change. Although, if you do want to change job roles, you can transfer your current Security Clearance if you move to another ‘List X accredited’ company.
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