If you are looking to land your first security cleared job you might find it can be a bit of a headache. If you do not have the appropriate clearance you might not get your foot in the door for certain jobs, but you cannot personally register for security clearance as an individual if you want to apply for those certain jobs either. It is a bit chicken and egg.

To find a role, you will need to find an organisation or employer willing to sponsor you through the process. Even though it can seem like a daunting task, it is still doable, albeit time-consuming and a little intrusive. To help we have put together this article to aid your understanding of the security clearance process and how you can get it for yourself.

In this article:

  • What is Security Clearance for jobs in the UK?
  • How do I get Security Cleared?
  • How long does Security Clearance last?
  • What are the different types of Security Clearance?

What is Security Clearance for jobs in the UK?

A variety of roles in the UK defence and public sectors require you to be security cleared before you can go onsite for a placement. This type of clearance is part of a vetting process that shows employers you do not pose a risk to the assets or sensitive information you can access during your engagement.

The process of security clearance is regulated by the United Kingdom Security Vetting unit (UKSV). They have set out the guidelines for the vetting process and depending on the project or position, you could be required to pass several types of clearance.

Reasons to become security cleared include:

  • If you are being considered for a role where it is outlined as a requirement.
  • If your current clearance has run out during your current placement.
  • You are moving onto a new placement where it is required.

How do I get Security Cleared?

If a role you apply for requires you to be security cleared and you do not already have it, it will be the responsibility of the employer or recruitment agency to act as your sponsor to get clearance and drive this process on your behalf. Before an organisation can do this, they need to be registered as a vetting sponsor with the UK government.

As a minimum, you will be asked to prove your identity and right to work in the UK by the party conducting the checks, as well as having to complete a Criminal Record Declaration form. Your clearance will only be permitted for a specific period, usually around the length of your contract, and not granted indefinitely. Even if you continue to work in the same position for a long period of time, your clearance will need to be renewed when it expires.

The time it takes for your clearance to come through will depend on the level of clearance you require. The basic Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) will take around 7-11 working days but higher-level clearance could be up to 9 months.

Once the process has started, your sponsor will be your main escalation point for any questions around your clearance. If they are a registered sponsor they should be clued up on the process and can help you with any queries you have.

SC Cleared jobs

How long does Security Clearance last?

The length of your security clearance should last for the same amount of time as the project or assignment it relates to. Even if you finish working on that assignment, your clearance will stay valid for a year afterwards in case you are called back.

If you find work on a new assignment during that year, your clearance can be transferred to your new employer/end-client if necessary. If a year passes and you have not found another security cleared role, you will need to start the whole process again with a new sponsor.

If you are a worker from overseas who does not have an indefinite leave to remain status, then you will need to have your clearance renewed every 12 months.

What are the different types of Security Clearance?

There are four main types of security clearance you will be asked for when applying to a role:

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)

BPSS checks are not classed as security clearances but aim to provide an assurance that applicants have a proper level of trustworthiness to be put forward for a role.

BPSS checks are essentially a starting point for more in-depth checks that take place. While these checks are not seen as clearance, it is still vital they carried out by recruitment companies or employers properly.

Average time to complete BPSS check: 7-10 days.

Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC)

CTC is clearance for candidates that will have access to public figures, certain buildings, sensitive information, or assets that could be a potential target for terrorist attacks.

This type of clearance process includes the following checks:

  • Departmental/Company Records Check.
  • Criminal Record Check.
  • Security Questionnaire.
  • Security Service Record Check.

Average time to complete CTC check: 10 days.

Security Check (SC)

SC Clearance is the most common level of clearance. This is for workers who will need access to secret or occasional access to top-secret assets to conduct their services. This type of check also looks at the type of character the person is and their personal circumstances to ensure they are not a risk to the information they work with.

This type of clearance process includes the following checks:

  • Departmental/Company Records Check.
  • Criminal Record Check.
  • Security Questionnaire.
  • Credit Check.
  • Security Service Record Check.

Average time to complete SC clearance check: 7-10 days.

Developed Vetting (DV)

DV Clearance is the highest level of clearance for workers who have unsupervised access to highly classified assets and/or will be directly involved with security/intelligence agencies.

This type of clearance requires extremely detailed checks which include:

  • Departmental/Company Records Check.
  • DV clearance questionnaire.
  • Criminal Records Check.
  • Credit Check and deep financial checks of your income, spending and assets.
  • Security Service Record Check.
  • Medical and psychological information check.
  • Character reference checks and work reference checks.
  • Character interview of the worker.

Once all checks above are completed, the information is assessed in detail and a decision is made to approve or deny DV clearance. This type of clearance usual requires you to be a UK resident for at least 10 years.

Average time to complete DV Clearance check: 6-9 months

MOD Case Study

Security Cleared jobs can offer an exciting opportunity to get involved in projects that have a real-world impact and can be extremely rewarding, some older data claims that Security Cleared workers could earn 24% more than their non-cleared counterparts. 

People Source has extensive experience in the UK Defence and security sector and public sector, if you would to organise a call regarding finding suitable candidates or a new role please email [email protected].