Can non-military get a job with security clearance

GeekyChickGeekyChick Senior MemberMember Posts: 314 ■■■■□□□□□□
I live in a big military town and most of the jobs require security clearance. I have never been in the military so I do not have any clearance. I want to get into cybersecurity and I'm almost ready to take the Security+ exam which most military jobs here require. After I pass Sec+(which I'm committed to :D), I'm going to start applying for jobs. What advice do you have for a non-military person trying to get a military contract position?

Comments

  • shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    Just keep applying eventually something will pop up where they will put you through the process.
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  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Many contracting companies will only hire people with a clearance because it's expensive to have it run and you're on the bench while it's being done. The better opportunities will be with larger firms (Lockheed, Northrup, SAIC, etc.) that have non-clearance work you can be doing while they're waiting. You will be better off if you bring something hard to get to the table.
  • TranceSoulBrotherTranceSoulBrother Member Posts: 215
    Or apply to work down range for a year or two, then come back home with a final clearance and apply for jobs stateside. I hear that companies will spring for the cost of the investigation that way
  • GeekyChickGeekyChick Senior Member Member Posts: 314 ■■■■□□□□□□
    EANx wrote: »
    Many contracting companies will only hire people with a clearance because it's expensive to have it run and you're on the bench while it's being done. The better opportunities will be with larger firms (Lockheed, Northrup, SAIC, etc.) that have non-clearance work you can be doing while they're waiting. You will be better off if you bring something hard to get to the table.

    That's what I was afraid of. I have heard it's not impossible just hard. Is there anything I can do to make it easier? I know I won't have a lot to offer with just Sec+ to start off with. I am making contacts in the industry locally so maybe that will help. I definitely can't do the down range stuff right now.
  • mbarrettmbarrett Member Posts: 397 ■■■□□□□□□□
    GeekyChick wrote: »
    That's what I was afraid of. I have heard it's not impossible just hard. Is there anything I can do to make it easier? I know I won't have a lot to offer with just Sec+ to start off with. I am making contacts in the industry locally so maybe that will help. I definitely can't do the down range stuff right now.

    All military cybersecurity jobs have requirements outlined in the DoD8570 instruction - it's a way of categorizing all the jobs in the cybersecurity field and outlining which certifications are required. Sec+ is a good one for getting in on the ground floor of Information Assurance related jobs, which sounds like what you are going after. Being able to qualify under 8570 is the first thing they look at (besides security clearance) when screening candidates.
    The best thing would be to continue making those contacts, eventually something will come up and that will give you a big advantage over someone else who is less known.
    As far as security clearance, you are less competitive without one, but if you are otherwise qualified then a company might be able to have you apply for an interim clearance (while the paperwork goes through) so you can work, if they are reasonably comfortable you will eventually receive the clearance.
  • kiki162kiki162 Member Posts: 635
    As someone who has been down this path before, yes you can get a contracting gig w/o military exp. If you find a company that is interested in you, willing to sponsor you for a Secret, and you can get at least an Interim in a short amount of time, then you are good. Keep in mind that if you really want to get into "cyber", getting into a gov't contracting gig can certainly be a good starting point. I have a few years in on both the contracting and government side, so I can certainly offer you some points from a female perspective :)

    On the comment from @EANx - I would agree on what you need to bring to the table. Right now it seems that you are just starting out (which is great), but when you are dealing with a saturated market, you may only get yourself into a help desk or jr. admin spot depending on your exp. Getting into infosec takes time just like anything else.

    Sec+ is bare minimum, and if you have something you really want to get into right away, contracting may not be ideal. The one thing I would recommend is if you get an interview for a contract, ask them what types of educational benefits they have, do they pay for training, etc. I've come across several ppl in contracts where they have a nice yearly budget for training that is used often. Take any and all opportunities you get to take training that is in-line with your career goals.

    Would love to talk to you more on this whole subject. Please feel free to PM me with any in depth questions that you may have.
  • 0zffy150zffy15 Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Is it possible? Sure.
    Is it likely? Probably not right now, unless you have personal connections.

    You and I are in the same area, so here's my experience. Take it for what you will.

    Ex-military
    Formerly held a high-level security clearance (expired now)
    Bachelor's degree (non-IT)
    Obligatory Sec+ cert, CCNA, and another high level OS cert

    (Yes I'm being deliberately vague. Admitting to having a security clearance on the internet right above your linkedin profile is a poor security decision.)

    I've been looking for IT work here for months and can't find a damn thing. Not even L1 helpdesk. It's also worth noting that I'm new to the area, so I don't have any connections. I had read that it was hard to find a job here, but this has probably been the most demoralizing experience of my life.

    There's currently a huge backlog for security clearance investigations. It was at 9+ months last time I saw the official figures (with an upward trend). Employers don't want to foot the bill for the investigation only to find out 9 months later that you didn't get cleared. If you look at the job listings, most of them explicitly say you need an active clearance to even apply. This was not the case a year ago.

    I think your chances would be higher as a college intern. Or make a good impression on someone who is already doing what you want to do and convince them to stick their neck out for you.


    On a side note, you should talk to some contractors about their work lifestyle. It isn't all sunshine and roses (contract rebids, benefits, etc.). Security is a 24/7 mission and you're at the bottom of the totem pole. Make sure you know what that entails. I'm not trying to discourage you, but just be informed.
  • advanex1advanex1 CASP, MCSA 2016, MCSA 2012, CCNA, Security+, Network+, Project+, Server+ Member Posts: 364 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yes, easiest contracting company to get a job for without a clearance is Vectrus. They will almost always pay for you to get one. They don't pay the best, but it's a way into the clearance world if you need one. If you're willing to do a year away - it could be something that catapults you the most into other contracting companies.. especially if you go to Afghanistan/Kuwait/Qatar.
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  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Bringing something hard to get to the table is just that. I don't mean to dismiss anyone's achievements but bringing Security+ is far different than five years of NetApp 7-Mode/CDOT experience. It gets easier to call the shots when the market favors you.

    What is it about you that favors you over other candidates if it's not experience or a pre-existing clearance? I'd guess finding drug-free candidates in CO is a bigger challenge than in other locations. Play that up! (If you partake in MJ, give up hopes of a clearance)

    Keep thinking outside the box, what else favors you so that someone is willing to look closer at you?

    Have you considered applying for non-IT jobs? Coordinating projects and being someone's administrative assistant might not have been in your plan but they might be the stepping stone to getting the clearance.
  • GeekyChickGeekyChick Senior Member Member Posts: 314 ■■■■□□□□□□
    @0zffy15, I tried to send you a PM but it wasn't an option. Can you PM me? I have some ideas for you too.
  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Member Posts: 684 ■■■■■□□□□□
    My company hires "interns" without clearances, puts them working at the corporate office supporting unclassified parts of projects until the clearance goes through, then moves them to the customers site. The larger companies are more likely to do something like this. My honest opinion is to not apply to anything that says "clearance required", and instead apply for positions in those companies that are not cleared.

    Also, it's equally difficult to get hired on, but apply to government civilian positions (usajobs.gov) that require a clearance. Your current lack of a clearance isn't taken in to consideration usually, the government just starts the process for one if they decide to hire you.

    The last option (I know a few of these) is if you can get away for a time and qualify, Army/Air National Guard in to a position that requires a clearance. Obviously the commitment level is a little more than normal, but I know people who have done it.
  • GeekyChickGeekyChick Senior Member Member Posts: 314 ■■■■□□□□□□
    EANx wrote: »
    Bringing something hard to get to the table is just that. I don't mean to dismiss anyone's achievements but bringing Security+ is far different than five years of NetApp 7-Mode/CDOT experience. It gets easier to call the shots when the market favors you.

    What is it about you that favors you over other candidates if it's not experience or a pre-existing clearance? I'd guess finding drug-free candidates in CO is a bigger challenge than in other locations. Play that up! (If you partake in MJ, give up hopes of a clearance)

    Keep thinking outside the box, what else favors you so that someone is willing to look closer at you?

    Have you considered applying for non-IT jobs? Coordinating projects and being someone's administrative assistant might not have been in your plan but they might be the stepping stone to getting the clearance.

    Thank you for your insight. I totally agree that Sec+ is just the basic requirement and I know I need more training to get where I want to be. I"m not at all opposed to starting at the bottom and working my way up either. There are a couple of local companies that would be fantastic to work for and I would do probably do any job there to get my foot in the door. (Not to sound desperate).

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  • TechGromitTechGromit A+, N+, GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 1,990 ■■■■■■■■□□
    GeekyChick wrote: »
    What advice do you have for a non-military person trying to get a military contract position?

    The more certs the better. While a security+ is the minimum security certification, most jobs also require a technical certification as well, which is usually a CCNA at minimum. The more certifications you possess the more desirable you will be to a contracting company looking to fill contract positions. Consider accepting an overseas position for a year or two, it will get you your security clearance to allow you to be far more desirable to employers when you rotate back to the states.
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  • stryder144stryder144 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Do you participate in local "Women in Tech" meetups? That is always a good place to start. There are a lot of companies looking to add women to their roster. When my company has another CTF meeting I will PM you, that might be a good place to make contacts.
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  • GeekyChickGeekyChick Senior Member Member Posts: 314 ■■■■□□□□□□
    stryder144 wrote: »
    Do you participate in local "Women in Tech" meetups? That is always a good place to start. There are a lot of companies looking to add women to their roster. When my company has another CTF meeting I will PM you, that might be a good place to make contacts.

    That would be awesome! Thanks! I actually am volunteering with the ISSA in town and I was offered a Deputy Board position. I've met quite a few people that way. I'll check into the Women in Tech meetup.
  • stryder144stryder144 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    One of our instructors goes to the COS ISSA meetings. I keep telling myself I need to be more involved locally. One day I will wake up and start participating...
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  • GeekyChickGeekyChick Senior Member Member Posts: 314 ■■■■□□□□□□
    You should try ISSA. They have a lot going on and it's a great way to meet people. BTW, I saw you start Cyber Ops the same time I do. :D
  • VeritiesVerities Member Posts: 1,162
    GeekyChick wrote: »
    I live in a big military town and most of the jobs require security clearance. I have never been in the military so I do not have any clearance. I want to get into cybersecurity and I'm almost ready to take the Security+ exam which most military jobs here require. After I pass Sec+(which I'm committed to :D), I'm going to start applying for jobs. What advice do you have for a non-military person trying to get a military contract position?

    The short answer is yes, non-military folk can get security clearances and they get them all the time; if a company feels that you are a good candidate for the position (they sponsor the investigation). Here are the two biggest factors that will decide whether or not you can obtain a security clearance:

    1. If you have debt, is your debt manageable (i.e. you are paying it off)? If not, you may be seen as susceptible to bribes, especially if you have a gambling debt.

    2. Do you have any felonies or DUIs? If you do, then the odds are stacked against you. If you have any previous bad run ins with the law as a youth, get your record expunged before attempting to go for a position that requires a security clearance.
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