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Government jobs with a CS degree?

  1. Dec 5, 2013 #1
    Could a Bachelors in CS easily translate to a government job? I have a dream of working for the government, and was wondering how easy it would be to get a job with DoD or NSA with a CS degree. I'm assuming the NSA has the largest amount of CS jobs.

    Also, would it be beneficial to attend school in a nearby area (DC, Virginia, etc)? And what else could I do while in college to improve my resume and look more marketable to the government? I'm fairly certain I could easily get a TS clearance if needed, I have no criminal background whatsoever.
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  3. Dec 5, 2013 #2


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    It's possible to get those without a degree, although the current environment of sequester and hiring freezes its a bit harder to get your foot in the door as a NP.

    Just apply and attend job fairs, you might also look into some of contracting agencies for the government. Keep your GPA above a 3.4, that was the cut off when I worked for them.
  4. Dec 5, 2013 #3
    Thanks, Student. Does the NSA and other agencies recruit at most state flagships, or is it more preferable to go to a top engineering school?
  5. Dec 5, 2013 #4
    Security clearance requires more then just no criminal background; I am sure you also need to be psychologically fit for the position they give, so they may ask you to take psych exams, also financial problems your family or yourself have could result in being disqualified. You may even need a polygraph test for some positions.

    If you are wondering how to get a job at the NSA specifically, you should also be aware that the NSA is one of the largest employers for people with mathematics degrees. Usually people specialized in signal analysis, cryptography, error correcting codes, etc.

    Therefore, you probably will need quite a lot of math on top of your computer science degree if this is your goal. Courses in abstract algebra, number theory, linear algebra are probably the minimum for cryptography. Additional courses could be, network security, (mathematical and CS based) cryptography, combinatorics, elliptic curves, etc. The more math you have probably the better you will be for cryptography.

    I believe the NSA has summer internships you could apply to as well. These would probably be good first starting point.

    Combine that with computer science and you should be able to get a job easily assuming you pass all there qualifications.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  6. Dec 5, 2013 #5


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    What? There are state flagships that are highly/top ranked in engineering.
  7. Dec 5, 2013 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    A state flagship like Purdue or Wisconsin? Or a top engineering school like...um...Purdue and Wisconsin?
  8. Dec 5, 2013 #7


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    As someone who had a security clearance, a secret level clearance is a simple investigation into criminal history, drug use, and debt history. None of those items alone will get you disqualified they look for patterns. A TS is harder to get, you'll go through a SSB investigation where agents will talk to family members, neighbors, supervisors, professors, anyone you've had contact with in the last 10 years is fair game. Drug use, debt problems and criminal history is a show stopper. Polygraph may be required for certain positions, but they aren't going to give you one just for the clearance, they understand how inaccurate they are.

    There's no kind of medical screenings or anything like that, they spend all their time talking to people you might not even remember. If you do have issues or try to hide anything, they will find it. They will have access to your medical records anyway.

    That said, I went the contractor route after I left the military, so I can't speak on how they handle NPs. The guys that went that route told me the GPA cutoff and some other information, they were mostly recruited at school job fairs. So it's probably helpful to go to a school that has a working relationship with the agency of interest and is nearby. Most times they will even fund senior projects for students so you'll be able to interface more closely with people who actually work there.

    95 % of the work that goes on in the government only requires a secret clearance. It's tough like I said with the hiring freezes and sequester, more work is being contacted out, so that's always something to think about too.

    Security clearances are expensive, so if you get that far you've probably already got the job.
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