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Security Clearance for Engineering Jobs, What Does it Mean?

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 15 Dec 2021

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Are you looking for your next engineering role? Do you keep seeing security clearance as a requirement in the job specifications? If you’re not sure how or where to start with security clearance, this is the article for you. Many engineering jobs in the defence and public sector (and some others) can require candidates to undergo security checks before they can begin their formal application. This is to ensure that the candidate is not only qualified but can be trusted to undergo the role they are appointed. So, what is security clearance and how do you get it?

What is security clearance

Some roles require the individual to have security clearance before they are offered the role. This is required by the employer, enforced by the government, to ensure that people who may work with sensitive assets and information, don’t pose a risk to the company or national security by having access to this information.

It is there to not only determine that the person in question is willing and able to do the role and safeguard classified information. But it is there to determine the person’s integrity, character and trustworthiness. It’s just as much a personality test, as much as a security test.

Here are some examples of security clearance needed for engineering roles.

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)This is the standard pre-employment screening for candidates wanting to work in government departments. This form of security clearance is used to protect government assets, by confirming the identity of the applicant and their legal right to work in the UK.

The basic entry level screening is based on the four-level RICE framework and checks the applicants right to work in the UK, their identity, their criminal records, and their employment history (for the last 3 years). (Security Watchdog; 2019)

Security Check (SC)Individuals who are or want to be employed in posts that require them to have long-term, frequent and uncontrolled access to secret and/or occasional access to top secret assets, need to have this security check. This is also necessary for individuals that have a role that requires you to access certain levels of classified material originating from another country or international organisation.

There are multiple checks involved to secure you this level of clearance, including a successful completion of the Baseline Personnel Security Standard.

Counter-Terrorism Check (CTC) – Your employer may need you to have this form of security clearance if you are employed in a post that involves unescorted access to certain military, civil, industrial or commercial establishments assessed to be at risk from a potential terrorist attack. As well as roles that give you access to information or material assessed to be of value to terrorists.

To gain this level of security clearance there are a list of checks to go through. These can be found on the website that will be linked below.

Developed Vetting (DV) – It is Cabinet Office policy that a DV clearance must be formally reviewed after 7 years. This level of clearance should be obtained if you have or are looking for a role that requires you to have frequent and uncontrolled access to TOP SECRET assets or require any access to TOP SECRET codeword material. (GOV.UK, Feb 2020)

For this, you must go through the list of checks necessary and complete the DV security questionnaire.

If a role requires you to be checked and have a certain type of security clearance, the checks should be arranged by the employer and carried out through an appropriate government agency. For all checks, you will usually be asked for a minimum of proving your identity and a complete criminal record declaration. Some higher-level checks require more, but the employer will let you know everything that is expected from you beforehand.

For additional information, you can check out the GOV website, to see what you need to do and how to go about doing it!

Why get security clearance?

If you want to get certain roles, you have to have security clearance. It’s that simple. There are some jobs that may require you to have this before you apply for the role, indicating a length of experience they want the candidate to have. Others, employers will help you along the way if they feel that you and your professional experience are right for their company.

There can be lots of checks and forms that you need to fill out but doing this allows you to apply for more of the roles you may want. It opens up a whole new pool of opportunities out there. Security clearance can last for up to 10 years (different levels require different time periods). So, it may take time, but is well worth it, if this is the direction you want to take your career.