Please upgrade your web browser

These pages are built with modern web browsers in mind, and are not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Please try using another web browser, such as Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

Get a higher paying job a secret clearance


Justin Moore Bel Air, MD

I have hard time trying to find a great paying job with benefits and no college degree but with a secret clearance

8 May 2022 5 replies Career Exploration



Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

You might find it easier to select a career field and then determine what the qualifications are, versus trying to fit a narrow qualification into a position. The previous post offered you a great list of resources of jobs that the clearance may work, but for the long run you may want to look into careers that interest you.
If you find a career start conducting Informational Interviews about what to positions do on a daily basis, this gives you an idea if it is something you might be interested in. Also reach out and obtain a mentor, most require you to have a career in mind so they can match you up with a mentor in a career. Complete the application with ACP without a career. It is helpful to have someone guide you in the process. Thanks for your service.

10 May 2022 Helpful answer


Kiana Thornton East Orange, NJ

Hi Justin,

Thank you for your service, and for utilizing our site! If you haven't already done so, please check out the following websites, to search for jobs that require a security clearance.

Clearance Jobs:
- Vetted private career network featuring pre-screened defense and intelligence recruiters. Largest community of government contracting and federal government recruiters and security-cleared candidates. Also features News & Career Advice.

Cleared Careers:
- Veteran owned company, involved in the intelligence community for over 20 years. Provides meaningful careers to professionals with security clearances. Also features and Event Calendar and Job Fair/Virtual Job Fair Tips.

Cleared Jobs:
- Allows you to search for jobs that require security clearance and filter by type of security clearance required. Also features Career Resources and Job Fairs.

USA Jobs:
- General job board that features more than security clearance jobs. But allows you to filter results by security clearance type.

Good luck with your job search!

9 May 2022 Helpful answer


Matt Johnson Chicago, IL


I think you'll find that security clearance just isn't highly valued in the market - especially for plain old Secret clearance. It's more of a perk than a selling point.
There's relatively few jobs which require it and even fewer that offer much upward mobility with it alone. Even in the military, had you stayed longer, you would've been pushed towards a degree path or specialized trade of some sort.

This sounds like you need to do some career discernment, keeping in mind your skills and interests. My advice would be to work backwards. Think about what sounds the most interesting to you - pressure test if that's really the path you want to pursue with your own google research or even coffee chats with people on LinkedIn (literally message them and say "hi, I'm impressed by your background, I'd like to hear your story because I'm considering following in your footsteps").

If you're having a hard time finding direction, you can take one of two approaches: thinking about which industry you would consider or what function.

Industries to consider would be financial services, government and public sector, defense, life sciences / pharmacy, healthcare, consumer goods, agriculture, industrials and mobility, or education. Even crossing out what you don't want to do is useful then it makes your search more targeted.
If that doesn't matter to you, you can consider job function within a business: sales, marketing, manufacturing, operations, supply chain, accounting/finance, legal, or human resources. All of these are huge career fields with many options and pathways.
This testing method borrows an approach from your science classes - starting with a hypothesis, testing if it works, and changing it as you go along.

Once you have that end-state in mind, you then figure out which companies do you want to do - and you research how they recruit people since they usually have favored "target" schools and degree paths. Companies don't go to every campus, after all. You may end up finding the trades (electrician, pipefitters, construction) are better suited to your wants and desired lifestyle, and there's usually training that is offered as part of an apprenticeship which will earn you good money without a degree.

All the above responses are good info to consider so I hope this helps.


Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!


Your Answer

Please log in to answer this question.

Sign Up

You can join as either a Veteran or an Advisor.

An Advisor already has a career, with or without military experience, and is willing to engage with and help veterans.
Sign Up as an Advisor.

A Veteran has military experience and is seeking a new career, or assistance with life after service.
Sign Up as a Veteran.