A defense contractor working on gas turbine engine maintenance
July 1, 2022

How to Get a Defense Contractor Job

A defense contractor working on gas turbine engine maintenance

If you’re interested in serving the nation and you want to build a career out of it, then getting a defense contractor job might be your solution. If you have had military experience before and want to continue to serve your country, the defense industry is also looking for people like you who already have years of experience and the skill set required.

The United States government employs people by signing defense contracts with various small and large businesses to continue maintaining the best of the country’s national security. It’s no longer top secret that the US government doesn’t only work with large companies, but it focuses on allocating a certain amount of work to be assigned to small business owners like women, veterans, or retired military officials. Working in defense contracting with the federal government is not that difficult if you have specific criteria fulfilled

What are defense contractors?

Defense contractors are the people who work as individuals or as a company for the requisition of services and supplies to the military department, such as weapons, ships, vehicles, services, electronic systems, air force equipment, etc. to security officers to help maintain national security

While there are defense contractor roles and companies across the country, Northern Virginia has an advantage because of its proximity to the Pentagon and other government agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA. The central location of Fairfax County provides a great workforce environment with access to leading customers, business partners, and federal regulators.  

Check out some of the defense contractor jobs in Northern Virginia and find your next job in NOVA  as per your preferred industry and location. 

What are some of the top defense contractors?

Northern Virginia has a major place in the defense industry because of some big leading contract specialist companies in various fields of the defense industry. Almost every top defense company is flocking to Northern Virginia, Washington, and D.C, to take their business to the next level because of the competitive workforce environment provided in Fairfax County.  

Finding the right pool of candidates with security clearance and prior military experience is quite easy in Fairfax, which convinced companies like Northrop Grumman to shift their headquarters to Virginia. It is becoming the home to various aerospace and defense technology companies, such as:

How do I get a job with a defense contractor?

Becoming a defense contractor can require no higher qualifications than a high school diploma, but having a bachelor’s degree or greater can be an advantage over others applying for the same job title.  

You can find many entry-level job alerts for defense contracting jobs posted by recruiters looking for both part-time and full-time equal opportunities in different industries, including aerospace, navy, healthcare, military aircraft, defense, information technology, etc.  

The Department of Defense (DoD) keeps on posting job alerts for the public on its official website regarding all military branches. In addition, our Find a Job tool includes a specific search for defense and aerospace positions 

Now that you have decided to apply for a job with a defense contractor, it might help to know some popular job positions that come under this category, such as: 

  1. Transportation coordinator 
  2. Security officer 
  3. Intelligence officer 
  4. Research specialist 
  5. Quality specialist 
  6. Benefits consultant 
  7. Cyber security engineer 
  8. Program manager 
  9. Security specialist 
  10. Performance tester 

The first and foremost requirement you need to have is to be a U.S. citizen to get a defense contractor job in the United Nations. Following this, there are a few important steps that you need to follow to increase your odds.

Get security clearance

If you want to get a defense job, be ready to apply for security clearance if you don’t have one. Many defense contracting companies want to hire individuals who have their security clearance, and the easiest way to get your security clearance is by serving in the military. 

If you haven’t served in the military, applying for security clearance requires going through a long application process in which you have to verify your U.S citizenship and then complete the Personnel Security Questionnaire. It gives official determination to an individual to access information stated by the United States government. Check out how to get your security clearance done in detail. 


When applying for any job, it can be helpful to form real connections with people who are already in that specific industry to get the inside information about upcoming opportunities. Maintaining genuine relations with specific contract specialist companies helps you market yourself in the industry and pitch your services like a pro.  

Networking and making contacts with companies with whom you want to work might give you an extra edge in getting hired over others applying for the same job. Make sure that you attend events, and job fairs and closely follow their websites or publications where they keep on posting about job opportunities. Northern Virginia job fairs are a place to make these connections, both virtually or in-person, as they provide opportunities to connect with top companies in the Northern Virginia area. 

Earn military experience

Having past military experience in your career by serving in the military can help when applying for a defense role in the military. Serving in the military comes under military experience, but it must not be confused as the only option for getting military experience.  

The easiest way to get military experience is by working in some type of military support or volunteering activities that can add up to your required skill set, such as leadership, ability to perform under pressure, teamwork and much more. 

Tailor your resume to the job listing

Focus more on how you can ace your interview process with a strong resume. You already know that you must include past military experience if any, but in case you don’t have any, then focus more on listing soft skills, such as: 

  • Problem-solving 
  • Teamwork 
  • Self-discipline 
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Integrity 
  • Flexibility 
  • Organization
  • Compliance 
  • Strategic planning 
  • Dedication 

You can also include related technical skills, such as

  • Recruiting
  • Project management
  • Quality assurance
  • Data analysis 
  • Military instructions 
  • Computer programs (e.g., Microsoft Office) 

Consider relocation

Defense contractor jobs are available throughout the country, but certain markets have more contractor roles than others, like the Washington, D.C. area.  

If you are willing to relocate, there can be no better deal than moving to Northern Virginia because of countless benefits, such as getting high-profile projects and a more competitive workforce environment than any other part of the United States. Additional benefits include: 

  1. Fairfax county acquires around 5 percent of U.S federal contract award dollars. 
  1. $29.4 billion FY20 contracts were awarded to Fairfax County companies. 
  1. Seven Fortune 500 aerospace and defense companies operate in Fairfax County. 
  1. 38 of the top global defense companies operate in Fairfax County. 

To learn more about the top defense companies in Fairfax County, visit the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority website.