How Much Does Secret Clearance Cost

Title: How Much Does Secret Clearance Cost? Exploring the Essential FAQs


Obtaining a secret clearance is a critical step for individuals seeking employment within government agencies or companies that handle classified information. While the process can be complex and time-consuming, it is important to understand the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining a secret clearance. In this article, we delve into the various factors that influence clearance costs and answer 12 frequently asked questions to provide a comprehensive overview.

Understanding the Cost of Secret Clearance:

The cost of obtaining a secret clearance can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the level of investigation required, the agency or organization sponsoring the clearance, and the applicant’s background. Generally, the expenses associated with securing secret clearance can be divided into two categories: personal costs and administrative costs.

Personal Costs:

1. Background investigation fees: These fees cover the costs of conducting thorough investigations into an applicant’s personal, financial, and criminal history. The fee typically ranges from $4,000 to $15,000.

2. Fingerprinting: Applicants are required to undergo fingerprinting as part of the background investigation process. The cost may vary depending on the location and service provider, ranging from $30 to $100.

3. Medical examination: Some positions may require applicants to undergo a medical examination to ensure they are physically fit for the job. Medical examination costs can range from $100 to $500.

Administrative Costs:

4. Administrative processing fees: These fees cover the administrative costs associated with processing an individual’s clearance application. The fee varies based on the sponsoring agency and can range from $100 to $500.

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5. Polygraph testing: Certain positions may require applicants to undergo polygraph testing. The cost of polygraph examinations can vary but generally ranges from $500 to $2,000.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Is the cost of secret clearance reimbursed by the employer?
– In most cases, the cost of obtaining secret clearance is covered by the employer or sponsoring agency. However, it is best to confirm this with your potential employer.

2. How long does secret clearance last?
– Secret clearance is typically valid for ten years, after which it must be renewed.

3. Can I apply for secret clearance on my own?
– No, secret clearance can only be obtained through an employer or organization that requires it.

4. Is secret clearance transferable between agencies?
– Generally, secret clearance is transferable between agencies, as long as the level of clearance required remains the same.

5. How long does the secret clearance process take?
– The process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on the complexity of the applicant’s background and the workload of the investigating agency.

6. Can a criminal record disqualify me from obtaining secret clearance?
– It depends on the severity and nature of the offense. Some criminal records may bar individuals from obtaining clearance, while others may not be disqualifying.

7. Do financial issues affect secret clearance eligibility?
– Financial issues, such as excessive debt or a history of bankruptcy, can raise concerns during the clearance process. It is crucial to demonstrate responsible financial behavior.

8. Can foreign citizenship hinder secret clearance approval?
– Having foreign citizenship does not automatically disqualify an individual from obtaining secret clearance. However, it may require additional scrutiny during the investigation process.

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9. Can I appeal a denial of secret clearance?
– Yes, applicants have the right to appeal a denial of secret clearance. The appeal process may involve providing additional information or addressing concerns raised during the initial investigation.

10. Can I start working before obtaining secret clearance?
– In some cases, individuals can start working in a position that requires secret clearance while the investigation is still ongoing. This is referred to as an interim clearance.

11. Do I need to disclose past drug use during the clearance process?
– Yes, honesty is crucial during the clearance process. Failing to disclose past drug use can lead to disqualification.

12. Can secret clearance be revoked?
– Yes, secret clearance can be revoked if an individual no longer meets the required standards or if new information comes to light that raises concerns about their suitability for access to classified information.


Obtaining secret clearance involves various costs, both personal and administrative. The expenses associated with background investigations, fingerprinting, administrative processing, and potentially polygraph testing vary depending on the applicant’s circumstances and the sponsoring agency. It is important to understand these costs and the frequently asked questions surrounding secret clearance to make an informed decision about pursuing a position that requires such clearance.

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