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Security Clearance Premium Information in the HRA-NCA Compensation Survey

The HRA-NCA Compensation Survey includes information to help you determine any premium that is paid to employees with various levels of clearance.  Clearance information is collected in one of two ways.  First, when collecting data for each incumbent, we ask organizations to provide the incumbent’s level of clearance, if this is available.  This information is then reported with each job.  Second, we ask organizations to report on the overall policies and pay practices they employ, if any, to compensate employees for having higher levels of clearance.

Individual Clearance Levels

Security clearance levels are collected with each incumbent’s base pay, bonus, and total other cash compensation.  For each incumbent, we ask whether they have one of the following levels of clearance: Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, Top Secret SAP (e.g. SCI), Top Secret Polygraph.  When reporting detailed job statistics, the survey includes a table at the bottom of the second page of each job.  A sample table is reproduced here:

Security Premium

For each level of clearance, the survey shows the number of employers reporting at least one incumbent with that level of clearance, the number of incumbents in the same category, as well as the average and median base pay for each level of clearance.  In addition, the survey aggregates all base pay data for those incumbents that have some level of clearance.

In the example shown above, the data indicate that a Systems/Electronic Engineering Manager cleared at the Top Secret Poly level earns on average 9% higher salary than a similar engineer with no clearance.

Security Clearance Pay Practices

In addition to security level information for each incumbent, the survey also asks respondents to report on the overall organizational policies and pay practices they have in place for individuals with clearance. Respondents can indicate whether they provide additional compensation to individuals with a clearance, and the form that this additional compensation takes, such as a sign-on bonus, a premium component to base pay, higher salary ranges for the position, or whether the premium is simply included in the employee’s base pay.  Organizations can also report specific premium percentages in base pay over non-cleared employees for each level of clearance.

The survey also asks respondents to report the average number of weeks to recruit employees with each level of clearance, and to comment on the methods they use to attract these employees.

Together with the detailed base pay information by clearance, the security clearance pay practices help to complete the picture of pay differentials for cleared personnel in the Washington area.  Although premiums will vary for individual jobs based on a number of factors, such as the mix of respondents each year, the number and type of high-demand jobs or hard-to-fill jobs in the sector, the combination of the detailed job data and overall company policy information will provide an accurate snapshot of the expected pay variances for cleared personnel.