The Career Coach: Listing Security Clearance on Your Resume

April 16, 2012 |

Security personnel

For more details on security clearance and job listings, visit’s Security Clearance section.


I have a Top Secret security clearance but have no desire to work in a job where that is a requirement. Should I put it on my resume? If so, why and how?

Robert V., OSCS, Norfolk, VA


Robert — First, thank you for your service.

Second, yes, the TS clearance matters regardless of whether or not you want to make it a part of your next career. Having that clearance means that you are completely trustworthy and dependable. A lot of time and money was spent on the background check required to get that clearance. You came out of that smelling like a rose! The fact that you were deemed worthy of the TS clearance is in and of itself an accomplishment and deserves a bullet on your resume. However, be careful how you phrase that bullet. If you wanted to use the TS in your next job, then simply listing it would be good enough since the companies in that category need no explanation. But since you appear to be targeting companies that do not know what it means, then you need to sell it not for what it is, but rather for what it means.

Something like this might do it:

  • Recognized for trustworthiness, reliability, and integrity as evidenced by the awarding of a Department of Defense Top Secret security clearance based upon a thorough background investigation.

Good hunting and best of success in your new career!

Tom Wolfe
Author, Columnist, Career Coach, Veteran

If you have questions, general or specific, about getting started in a civilian career, email them to Tom at, and we’ll feature his answers in this blog.

Tom Wolfe is an author, columnist, career coach, veteran, and an expert in the field of military-to-civilian career transition. During his career he assisted thousands of service members in their searches for employment, placing more than 3000 in their new jobs. Prior to civilian life, he graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy and served as a surface warfare officer. He teaches transition courses, gives seminars on career and job change, writes about the career transition process, and continues to counsel current and former military personnel. His book, Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition, was published by Potomac Books in 2011.

OUT OF UNIFORM: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition

Tom Wolfe, Career Coach

About Ho Lin

Ho Lin is an editor at His interests include naval history, the New York football Giants, and loud rock music.


  1. Tracy says:

    How do I succinctly descibe my “Post Soldier of the Month” award on my resume to a civilian.

    • Scott b says:

      Describe it as employee of the month for the company of X # employees. (how many people on the post.

  2. RN to MD says:

    Tracy, I would describe it just like that. It seems pretty self-explanatory.

  3. robert aussicker says:

    I served 10 years from 79-89 and forgot my clearanance maybe confidential or secret was QA supv in hawaii and did not finish college got screwd with the VEAP program is clearance still important. I lost everything starting over again. job market bad for my age group

    • Bryan says:

      The job market is better for us veterans than the civilians who have no military experience. There are several opportunities our for us and assistance so leave no rock unturned. Start at your local VA office or base facility.

  4. ryhim sheriff says:

    Am an african currently in kenya have being serving in the force protection mission in iraq as a special security with KBR for couple of years, how can i get in to this job ?

  5. TGL says:

    I am a retiree and hold several degrees(Assoc;Law Tech.BS;Tech Management,BS (ECCT) Tech Elec Computer Tech, BS-Bus Admin, Dept Of Labor-Radio Station Operator, FCC Liscense,EPA Liscense.I also have several MOSs; TS clearance etc.. over 30 years experience. I am currently working on MBA-Project Management/Electronics. I have served and now find myself in need of a job. The only problems is the jobs I qualify for based on my areas of expertise place me in the upper levels of the organization. I need help because I seem to be over qualified to the people within the organization.This is futher complicated by several employers making statements about my race. I cannot help it if my drive lead me to over achieve. I thought we promoted and hired the most qualified. Throughout my time in service i created an envirnment where all had an equal opportunity now it seems as if they are only viewing my personage not my unlimited potential. Please help; TOP
    Yours Truly; T.G.L 1SG {RET}

  6. Sharon Baughman says:

    Air National Guardsman with a TS, are there entry level positions that would be interested in me with little experience?


  7. P. Sheppard says:

    If you do OR do not intend to use the clearance in the future, you need to simply add the fact that you held a clearance. DO not add what type of clearance you had on your resume. You will need to speak to that in the interview. Please remember that you signed a piece of paper stating that you will not speak about having the specific type of clearance.
    Please be careful with this.