Thursday, November 15, 2012

Visualization and Employment in the Defense and Intelligence Field

Just for fun, and because the grass is always greener, I decided to look at the job openings at a major computer technology defense contractor: SAIC. SAIC used to be a small (e.g. maybe 500 people) company in San Diego renowned for treating its people well and doing cool things for three-letter agencies that they could not talk about. I knew that they had grown since then, and I knew that the national security business was experiencing major growth, but I was still surprised.  Amazed actually.

SAIC now has over 40,000 employees, all over the country and the world. They have over 3,500 current job openings, and all of the ones I looked at had been listed in the last 60 days.  So SAIC is gigantic and is growing like mad.  

Job titles on Internet employment lists vary from useful to useless as we all know.  Nevertheless, I am an expert reader of such things and scanned about 1/2 of the jobs open at SAIC, pulling out 1 or 2 a page for further review.   The first thing that pops right out at you and waves their arms around so you can't miss it is that almost all these jobs require a security clearance.  Not merely that you are willing to get a security clearance, no, they require that you have it already, active, in order to apply.  Of the 30 or 40 jobs I happened to pick because they sounded interesting or possibly relevant all but 1 or 2 required an active security clearance.   Since you as an individual can not keep a security clearance active easily, this means that you were either in the military, working for a defense contractor or you were your own defense contractor and needed a security clearance within the last (approximately) two years (it varies, based on the type of security clearance), or it would have lapsed automatically.

But this gets better.  It isn't just any security clearance that you are supposed to have, its a Top Secret / SCI clearance.  Whats funny about that is that Top Secret is a classification, but SCI is not, its something else, an "access ticket" I think.   Just because you have a ticket to one compartment, doesn't mean that you can automatically have a ticket to another, it means you have a need-to-know for that first compartment.  I presume that it is easier to clear someone for a new compartment if they have had a ticket to another one in the past.  I guess.

So of the 30 or 40 jobs I read beyond the job title, all but a few required a clearance of some sort, and most of them TS/SCI.   One of the few that did not require this was, ironically, the one job I found that looked like it might use Visualization as part of its job description.     This is yet more (anecdotal) evidence that graphics and visualization is a poorly regarded niche specialization outside of a few industries.

Wikipedia page on security clearances

1 comment:

  1. Ah but would you really want to work for w**kers like that?