FSO Questions for FSO professionals

I’m a contract Background Investogator and own my own LLC and contract with various govt agencies. I have 10 years of experience in the BI industry conducting federal background investigations. I know the SF-86 like the back of my hand.

Ok enough about me. I am interested in FSO work…specifically I am wanting to know if their is any contract work that is available for FSO work? What I mean by that is can you work as an FSO as an independent contractor and do companies hire FSO’s as independent contractors? If so, what are these companies? I’ve heard that this type of FSO work exists as an independent contractor. Is this true?

How does one get involved in FSO career? All of the FSO’s I’ve met work F/T as a contract employee for a company or directly for an agency. Also what type of money do FSO’s earn?

Any help would be greatly appreciated in answering these questions.


Can anyone help me out that has FSO experience and answer the above question in the original post?

I have not heard of FSOs working as independent contractors. It seems to me there would be a conflict of interest if working on multiple classified contracts for different entities and DSS would probably look at it askew. Exceptions are if you are the prime company and your subcontractor does not have an FSO, then you could act as that company’s FSO for the contract. I may be off base here, so a DSS security professional would be the to query about this.

Thanks for the tag (I didn’t see this posted until I got an email). Marko is spot on with his comments. Allow me to go into a bit of more detail.

The short answer to your question of whether or not there are independent contractors as FSO’s is no because the NISPOM doesn’t allow it. Now that being said, the much longer answer is that you can be an independent contractor and consult to a company’s FSO that is in place. This happens a lot, as contractors are required to have an FSO but often are too small to hire one outright and/or just use a member of the management team since they are designated as KMP’s. NISPOM requires that the FSO be a part of the FCL and an employee. This may be achieved via part-time work but remember, you can be walking on thin ice if you want to work for multiple companies this way (as the DSS will know if you are listed as multiple FSO’s).

You’ll see companies advertise as a “FSO consultant” and typically what happens is they are hired by a small company to guide the registered FSO. Especially for small companies starting out, there is a lot of things to be put into place. Additionally, there are the self-assessments, etc.

I cannot speak for everyone, but my career started by me essentially falling into the position because of my years of experience in management, law enforcement and criminal justice. No one wanted to be the FSO because there is so much involved and so many responsibilities. It really isn’t a bad gig, but many just don’t want to bother with it. Some get their start by being appointed as an Alternate FSO, get all the training, then branch off. Salary wise, I have saw it range widely depending on the type of company, area, etc. A company that hires a full time FSO to just do that job can range anywhere from $50k to $110k+.

I know that doesn’t really help pin down your question on salary, but it’s really dependent on a lot of things. For example, I am an FSO for multiple entities within my organization (mid-size corp), thus my salary in a higher range. Some companies require FSO’s to have cyber/IT certifications (many companies are going this route). Some may just do mostly administrative duties in an office setting, where some may be out in the field.

To get started you’ll have to find a company willing to appoint you so you can get your training (gotta do the FSO training), and you’ll need to get familiar with the NISPOM.

Actually a government GS-14 within the IC just got into a lot of trouble moonlighting as an independent consultant FSO. I believe she was read out, lost clearance and fed job. She WAS an FSO. But she openly advertised her consulting business and regularly worked those issues while on the clock for the government. She surfed JPASS, and other clearance databases to verify clearances and the like. Her situation gave me pause answering questions here. But I learn as much as I share from folks like Marko. I feel I can easily defend my time spent here as in iron sharpening iron I learn how best to handle situations we will all face. For this former GS-14 (dang good money there), she was actually charged with timeclock violations as she was paid for her seat hours…and also made money pimping her services. And she downloaded computer games we all know isn’t acceptable. I guess she felt untouchable. So yes it is done. Yes it can be done. But keep ethics and integrity in check.

Here is the link on the moonlighting story.


Thanks. This is all good information. I wasn’t aware of the potential conflicts of interest with this. If I were to become an FSO, it sounds like I would obviously have to stop doing work as a contract investigator as I’m sure this would be a conflict of interest to be conducting a background investigation for an agency and be an FSO at the same time for the same agency or even a different agency. Has anyone of you heard of a Contract Background Investigator also performing job duties as a consultant to an FSO? I personally have never heard of this employment arrangement. I had heard from someone that FSO’s can work for more than one company but apparently that isn’t true…only as a consultants to an FSO.

@JC-FSO I don’t know what the acronymn NIPSOM signifies or KMP, or FCL. Also, how does one become certified as an FSO? Is their training or certifications someone can take or is is just on the job training only? How would someone get into this industry with no experience other than being familiar with the SF-86 as an investigator. I’m assuming being an Invesrigator has to count for something.

In summary, I’d like to become an FSO and one day drop the BI position. It’s time to learn something new and experience a new career. Sounds like I need to find a F/T position as an FSO somewhere. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.