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The basics of how the security clearance process works

Because a job may depend on a security clearance, it is important to understand the security clearance process and the guidelines for obtaining a security clearance. Familiarity with he process and guidelines can help those seeking a security clearance better troubleshoot challenges that may arise.

Background checks for security clearances are conducted for national security; the public trust; to determine basic suitability or verify an identity; and for positions that are regulated by the government. Investigations are conducted for federal applicants and employees, active military personnel, government contractors and private sector employees who are in positions regulated by the government.

The process includes completion of an initial questionnaire after the job is offered followed by an investigation that is conducted. Following the investigation, it is adjudicated and the clearance is granted. Whether or not the individual requires a security clearance is determined according to the position and if they need access to classified information. If the position requires a security clearance, and there is a demonstrated need for access to classified information, the government determines what level of access is required, what level of clearance is needed and what level of investigation is required.

Hopefully, the process runs smoothly and according to how it is routinely laid out, however, it is helpful to know what to expect from the process. If security clearance issues do come up, it is also important to know how to address those in what can be a complex and technical process on which the military member's livelihood may depend.

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