This is a detailed guide for veterans interested in security-cleared jobs. Types of jobs available, different levels of clearance and more.

Finding jobs as a veteran can be challenging. You spent a large portion of your adult life serving and are now thrust back into the modern working world. Thankfully, you’ve got a plethora of transferable skills and there are many jobs out there suited to your expertise. Being a veteran means you might have some level of security clearance.

Your level of security clearance might open up a few different options for you, and we think you’ll be surprised how many security cleared jobs exist for veterans – but what should you know before going down this route?

This article explains all the key things to consider and be aware of if you’re interested in a job that requires a certain level of security clearance.

Security Cleared Jobs Explained – What Are They?

What do we mean by a “security cleared job”? 

As mentioned in the introduction, we’re referring to any type of job with strict security clearance demands. To be considered for these roles you need to pass a rigorous security clearance check.

This will involve a series of background checks to ascertain if you are right for the role from a security perspective. In other words, is there anything about you or your past that may cause a significant risk to National Security?  

If you already hold the necessary level of clearance for a role, this puts you at an advantage. You can bypass the checks as they’ve been done already. Which is one of the key reasons a lot of veterans look into security cleared jobs; you’ve already ticked one of the main boxes for the role.

What Does Security Clearance Involve And Are There Different Types?

A security clearance will be a lengthy process and normally consists of: 

  • Thorough identity checks
  • Immigration status checks
  • A long look at your employment history
  • Criminal background checks
  • Amount of time spent abroad & the countries you were in

The process can be even longer depending on the type of security clearance demanded. In the UK, you will see seven levels of security clearance that may be required for different roles: 

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)

BPSS is classified as pre-employment screening and is not strictly an official security clearance. It is largely used to help filter candidates when applying for certain roles by immediately seeing if they qualify for the job. You’ll also undergo a BPSS check regardless of what security cleared job you’re applying for. It’s the backbone of the security clearance process, fail to pass this and you won’t pass any of the other checks. 

As a veteran, you will already have this. It’s mandatory for members of the armed forces as well as any roles that will: 

  • Have access to UK Official assets and occasional access to UK Secret assets
  • Force you to work in areas where Secret and Top Secret information may be overhead or shared
  • Require access to the Public Services Network

The Government BPSS notes that most of these jobs will be for civil servants, temporary staff and government contractors.

Accreditation Check (AC)

An AC security clearance is specific to anyone working in aviation. This can include commercial airline pilots or individuals who work on air cargo transportation. If you’re a veteran of the RAF, you should already have AC clearance. It’s a strict requirement when working for the Royal Air Force and is outlined by the aviation security regulations. 

AC clearance is valid for 12 months by default but this can extend to 5 years. But only if you comply with all the necessary data provisions. Those who don’t wish to do any aviation work will not need to worry about this check. It’s very industry-specific and you won’t need it for any other type of work. 

Counter Terrorist Check (CTC)

Also known as a Level 1B clearance, a Counter Terrorist Check follows a simple principle. It exists to stop people from obtaining jobs when they may have links to certain terrorist organisations. You can imagine how crucial this is when handling National Security data or having a role in the public sector. 

If you’re looking for a job that involves close contact with public officials or puts you in areas where sensitive government data is held then you will need a CTC. This comes after your BPSS as well, so you need to pass all the necessary checks plus the addition of more screening activities, such as: 

  • Filling in a Security Questionnaire
  • A full check of departmental/company records
  • A check of spent and unspent criminal records
  • MI5 records check
  • A possible interview if the MI5 deems necessary based on the screening’s findings

A CTC is largely required by government agencies, legal agencies or the police force. It can take half a year to complete all the checks and will stay valid for 36 months. Depending on your role as a veteran, you may already possess a CTC if you were deployed around public figures or had access to sensitive information.

Security Check (SC)

This is a deeper level of security clearance that can sometimes be called TS clearance as it is strictly for individuals in roles where Top Secret assets or information are frequently accessed. If you were fairly high up in the army ranks and regularly had access to classified information – or information that could cause a significant amount of damage if leaked or compromised – there’s a high chance you already have an SC.  

Again, you must complete the BPSS before undergoing a Security Check and you’ll also be asked to do everything involved in a CTC. A couple of extra things are tacked onto this for an SC, such as: 

  • Providing credit and financial history via a credit reference agency
  • Complete a separate Financial Questionnaire if necessary

Enhanced Security Check (eSC)

Moving up another level, you have an Enhanced Security Check. This is for jobs requiring more security clearance than an SC allows but not as much as a DV (more on that in a moment). It’s a role-specific clearance that not many people will need and is reserved for those who: 

  • Require access to Secret code word materials
  • Some overseas posts where the individual is exposed to a significant espionage threat

All of the Security Check screenings are carried out here with the addition of an Internet Questionnaire. 

Developed Vetting (DV)

Developed Vetting is the highest level of security clearance and is also seen as TS (Top Secret) clearance in the UK. If you’re looking for a role that requires any access to Top Secret materials daily, this is the level of clearance you’ll need. 

Compared to the BPSS, this adds an extra ten steps to the security clearance process. You’ll need to complete the BPSS first and then you have to do much of what’s involved in SC and eSC checks with the addition of a full personal finances review, a detailed interview with an Investigating Officer and third-party security checks. 

Enhanced Developed Vetting (eDV)

In the rare case where your job requires more security clearance than Developed Vetting, you’ll need eDV. A minute number of roles are considered for an Enhanced Developed Vetting and the majority of you won’t have to worry about this. It’ll require slightly more extensive clearance checks such as numerous interviews.

What Types Of Jobs Require A Security Clearance?

Certain jobs require a security clearance because they put individuals in potentially “dangerous” positions. The “danger” in question relates to data and information sharing.

Some jobs involve the constant access and moving of secret government data or information that could harm the country or government in some way, shape or form. Employers need to be sure they can trust the individuals working in these roles, hence the need for security clearance. 

When it comes to the specific jobs that require a security clearance, you’re mainly looking at the following industries: 

  • Government and Defence 
  • Military
  • Police
  • Cybersecurity
  • Aerospace
  • Telecommunications
  • Nuclear 

Any of these sectors will have jobs that force you to be in close contact with public officials or have access to national security information. The level of clearance required depends on the role and you can be anything from a personal assistant in a government office to a private contractor working with the armed forces. 

SC Jobs Security Cleared Jobs: Everything You Need To Know

That’s another key thing to take into account – private companies with government contracts could also require a security clearance. Many of these might work in the industries listed, but you may need security clearance for more common jobs like marketing, R&D, etc.

There’s really no limit to the jobs and roles available with security clearance – it’s more about what information the job gives you access to and who you work with. As mentioned already, if it involves national security information or public officials, you’ll likely need some level of clearance.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Security Clearance As A Veteran?

Whether you’re a veteran of the armed forces or the police, you already have a security clearance. This gives you a host of advantages when compared to other job seekers looking for work. Having some level of clearance means you benefit from the following:


Immediate access to specific jobs that require clearance

You automatically qualify for a host of security cleared jobs while others still need to go through the clearance process. This makes you a far more attractive candidate for employers because a) they can save money by not needing to conduct clearance checks and b) they can hire you a lot faster as they don’t need to wait for these checks.

Keep in mind that some security clearance takes 6 months to pass – already having an SC or DV clearance puts you in a very commanding position. The onboarding process is streamlined and it will be hard for the employer to pass you up.

Can apply for jobs with higher salary potentials

Security-cleared jobs are typically very “good” jobs with a high salary potential. Some roles include project management, IT technicians, cybersecurity specialists, private consultants and so on. All of these jobs have big starting salaries that keep on rising.

Without having a security clearance, you won’t have access to jobs like these. It broadens your horizons and helps you find a good job after you leave the armed forces/police services. After giving so much of your life to your previous career, it’s good to know that you gained something valuable that helps you pursue a more prosperous career as a veteran. 

You can stay within similar industries

Some veterans like to take their skills and security clearance, moving to different industries like cybersecurity and forensics. Others prefer to stay within the comfort of an industry they know and love. If you spent many years in the armed forces working closely with public officials, your security clearance helps you find similar roles in the same sector.

You may no longer be directly employed by the armed forces, but perhaps you work for a private contractor and can stay in the industry you’re comfortable with. It brings many other benefits – such as the ability to call upon years of experience and relatable skills – making you a fine asset for any company in the sector. 

More room for career advancement opportunities

Advancing your career is easier when you’re security-cleared. If you already boast an SC level of clearance, it’s far easier for you to move up to DV cleared jobs with better salaries, benefits, etc. Your clearance means you already pass many of the DV checks so it shouldn’t take too long to pass the rest.

Not only that, but a lot of security cleared jobs have great career pathways. There’s room for growth, but you can only get these jobs with security clearance. Having some in your back pocket already helps you get your foot on the ladder and climb to the top. 

There are often hiring preferences given to veterans

This largely involves roles related to Defence Department contractors, but if you’re a veteran with security clearance they are more likely to pick you for a job than anyone else. You’ve got everything they’re looking for: an understanding of this specific sector, experience in a similar role and the right security clearance.

You’ll find most Defence Department contractors are full of veterans because who’s better to handle jobs related to the country’s defences than people who served in either the Armed Forces or the police?

May be able to demand a better starting salary

We already spoke about the salary benefits of security cleared jobs. You’re accessing well-paid jobs in expensive industries, but having a security clearance puts veterans in a very commanding spot salary-wise.

It goes back to another point we touched upon; saving employers time and money during the onboarding process. They don’t need to pay for security checks, which can often mean some of the money goes back into your salary. You have more bargaining power when setting your salary because you know how much money you’ve saved. It’s often better for the company to hire you and pay a bit more than it is to spend lots of money on pre-screening BPSS checks and other security checks for different candidates. 

As you can see, owning a security clearance is very favourable and it puts veterans in a fantastic position when looking for jobs. All the above points should explain why it’s wise for veterans to apply for security cleared jobs. It puts you on a great career pathway, provides access to excellent jobs and you’re immediately in a better place than other candidates without clearance.

What Is TS Clearance When Looking For Security Cleared Jobs UK?

TS Clearance has been mentioned a couple of times in this guide already. It’s important to note that this isn’t a specific level of security clearance. You won’t find TS Clearance in the UK. But it can be used to describe any type of security clearance involving the use of Top Secret information. According to the Government Classification Scheme, you have three levels of information classification: 

  • Official – Most information created by the public sector is branded as “official” and it refers to general administration, public safety, criminal justice, law enforcement and much more. Reasonable measures must be taken to look after it and comply with legislation like the Data Protection Act. 
  • Secret – This refers to very sensitive information that needs a higher level of protection as it has highly capable or determined threats. Official information may have damaging consequences if lost, stolen or published. But Secret information may seriously damage military capabilities, investigations of serious crimes or international relations if compromised. 
  • Top Secret – The most sensitive information is classified as Top Secret. It needs the utmost level of protection against the most serious threats. Compromising this information can cause widespread loss of life or threaten the security of the country or friendly nations. 

Therefore, if a job requires access to the third level of information, it can be categorised as needing TS clearance. An easy way to know this is by looking for DV cleared or SC cleared jobs – both clearance levels involve Top Secret information. 

What Are The Differences Between SC and DV Clearances?

SC and DV clearances are the two most common high-level security clearances in the United Kingdom. They both involve a host of checks and are specifically for important roles relating to Top Secret information or accessing information that could be equally damaging. 

To the untrained eye, they seem like the same things, but there are a few subtle differences between Security Check and Developed Vetting clearances: 

  • SC clearance is for less serious roles and is widely required when handling Official or Secret information
  • You will need an SC clearance if you’re occasionally in contact with Top Secret files
  • By contrast, DV clearance is the highest level of security clearance in the UK and is required when access to Top Secret material is frequent and uncontrolled

In simpler terms, SC clearance is used by far more people than DV. DV is strictly reserved for specific jobs where Top Secret information is used all the time. People dealing with Official information may still need an SC clearance while a DV isn’t necessary for most. Another key difference lies in the depth of the checks carried out during the security clearance processes for both. 

Both a SC and DV clearance will involve the following: 

  • Full completion of BPSS
  • Completion of a Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal records checks
  • Financial history checks
  • Security Service checks
  • Work history checks

The difference comes in the time taken to carry out these applications as well as one additional step for a DV clearance. Opting for a DV clearance will mean you need a detailed interview with a trained Investigating Officer as well. Overall, it takes an SC clearance around 6 weeks to complete while a DV application could take up to 9 months! 

Why Choose A Security Cleared Job?

This guide has explained all the main things to know about security cleared jobs. We’ve defined what they are, given examples of where they might be needed (along with specific roles) and explained the benefits of applying for these jobs as a veteran. 

One question remains – why choose a security cleared job over a more traditional one? 

The answer is simple; security cleared jobs help you reach your potential. As a veteran, you have so many unique skills that you spent years honing.

You climbed the ladder in your field and it makes sense to put all of your experience and skills to good use. Why find a typical office job or something less rewarding when you’re perfectly qualified for security cleared jobs? They pay better and you have access to a wider pool of impressive jobs.  There’s also more room for career progression and you’re instantly a more marketable candidate. This is thanks to your experience and the presence of a security clearance. 

If you’re looking for a veteran career that gives you a sense of purpose and makes the most out of your transferable skills. Then start searching for jobs with a security clearance today!