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Job Seekers With Security Clearances Command Better Pay, Says Web Site

Help-wanted advertising for specialized defense sector work is rising steadily by about 6 percent per year, according to one barometer.

That indicator is postings on ClearanceJobs.com, a unit of Dice Holdings Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa.

The nationwide Web site lists jobs requiring U.S. government security clearances.

“San Diego is definitely a hot spot,” said Evan Lesser, the Atlanta-based founder and director of ClearanceJobs. Since 2002, the number of job postings in San Diego has grown yearly by 5 percent to 6 percent. Between 2007 and 2008, local listings on the board jumped from 1,340 to 1,425.

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Some of this reflects the dot-com sector grabbing more market share.

However, it also reflects conditions in the San Diego market, said Lesser.

To get its growth figures, ClearanceJobs compared unique, identifiable job postings in the city of San Diego , not outlying areas , between 2002 and 2008.

From Lesser’s point of view, it is still a job-seeker’s market, because the supply of workers is low. “Job seekers will be a little bit bold in salary expectations,” he said.

With recession either looming or at hand, job seekers are also looking for job security, Lesser added. As a result, employers who hold long-term defense contracts might have an edge in hiring.

Salaries for people holding security clearances averaged $60,732 in San Diego, according to a September 2007 study from ClearanceJobs. More recent figures were unavailable.

The September study pegged the average salary in Los Angeles at $77,206.


Washington Is The Place

If an employee is primarily concerned about pay, they probably know the Washington, D.C., metro area is the best place to be.

ClearanceJobs reported in March the best-paying security-cleared jobs are in Herndon, Va., where the average salary is $94,118.

Security clearances come in a variety of forms. More sensitive clearances bring higher paychecks.

ClearanceJobs reported that those with “confidential” clearances make an average of $64,375. Those with “secret” clearances make an average of $65,425. Those with “top secret” clearances make an average of $76,414.

Workers holding clearances issued by the National Security Agency or Central Intelligence Agency receive an average of $94,677. Those holding Department of Energy clearances make an average of $100,600.

Perilous economic times, however, might turn into a problem for people who hold those clearances , and employers who want to recruit and retain talent.

Says Lesser, “Financial problems are the No. 1 security clearance killer.”

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