The chances are fairly high that you have heard the phrase “security clearance” at least once in your life, in passing or through employment. A Security Clearance is often confused with a very similar phrase, a Police Clearance, although there isn’t any correlation between the two, and are entirely different processes.
While it is a very common phrase, it is also one of the most misunderstood phrases when it comes to employment, as well as one that many people may never have to worry about while searching for a job.
What is a security clearance?
In a nutshell, a security clearance is a broad term for the vetting process potential employers require so they can judge whether or not you are trustworthy enough to handle classified information. This does make the whole process sound like a spy movie, but the reality is far less outrageous. It also only takes place if you are applying for a government job where you may be handling personal or classified information on a regular basis.
The security clearance itself isn’t handled by the employer, it is instead a requirement of the applicant to apply for one through the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency. Each role will also require a different level of security clearance, with each increased level of clearance taking longer to process than the previous one.
You can’t simply apply for a security clearance on a whim, you need to be sponsored by a government agent, who will usually be whoever you are trying to be employed with. A successful application also requires that you be an Australian Citizen and doesn’t extend to permanent residents.
Can I apply for a job without a security clearance?
In general, it can be quite difficult to apply for a security clearance ahead of time and you don’t normally need one prepared if a job you are applying for requires one. However, some higher-level clearances can take up to seven months to complete, so it’s best to have one prepared if you know you need a Positive Vetting Security Clearance.