Clearance Levels were used by S.H.I.E.L.D. to keep order in their system and protect information that is protected by S.H.I.E.L.D.
There were 10 levels of clearance, as well as Level Alpha, Omega, and Tango Clearance. As agents moved up from Level 1, they gained access to more information, and frequently, more power, though rank and clearance level is not necessarily correlated. For example, for agents to know all of the information surrounding the Battle of New York, they had to have been Level 7. An agent's clearance level was not based on how long they have been a part of the agency, but primarily on their performance.
- "Why do I, Level Red, have to go through you, Level Orange, to request hardware? Shouldn't Red be higher than Orange?"
"Well, Orange encompasses both Red and Yellow, so... It's hard to explain, but the Director didn't want to use numbers because he didn't want any team member to feel less than."
"But you do have a higher clearance than me."
"Only in most instances."
- ―Melinda May and Jemma Simmons
Following the re-legitimization of S.H.I.E.L.D., a new security clearance system, dubbed the "Spectrum of Security" was established. Unlike the original one, which was numeric, the new one was based on colors. Colors such as orange would generally be higher clearance than red and yellow as both are encompassed by orange, but in some cases, the lower colors would have higher clearance in select areas.
List of Agents by Confirmed Level
- Level 10 (Director)
- Level 9
- Level 8
- Level 7
- Level 6
- Level 5
- Level 4
- Level 1
- Level Platinum (Director)
- Level Orange (Field Support)
- Level Red (Operations)
- Level Green (Research)
- Burrows †
- Level Black (Enhanced Individuals)
- Clearance Level 1 had the least access in S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Some Clearance Level 4 agents worked as field agents.
- Many Level 5 agents worked as foot soldiers wearing body armor.
- Known Level 6 agents specialized in espionage and combat.
- Clearance Level 7 agents had full access to details on the Battle of New York.
- Clearance Level 8 gave agents more access to information that could risk the lives of agents in lower clearance levels. Some agents work as mission controllers.
- Level 9 Agents had access to most of the agency's files and generally hold a high rank. They will also know of high ranking projects, secrets and missions about S.H.I.E.L.D.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives in Level 10 have the most access to the world's most important files and secrets. These operatives hold the highest rank in the agency. The only known person that had Level 10 Clearance was Nick Fury.
- Alpha Level was needed to access S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most secret and highly encrypted files. Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce were the only two known individuals who had Alpha Level Clearance.
- Omega Level was necessary to access special sensitive cases, like full access to the files of Project Rebirth, or to Camilla Reyes' hijacking of the Bus. Nick Fury is the only one known to have Omega Level Clearance.
- In a conversation with agents Phil Coulson and Grant Ward on Coulson's resurrection, Maria Hill states that the Avengers are not Level 7 (hence why they do not know of the event). However, Clint Barton has Level 7 clearance.
- Clearance Level Orange has a higher clearance than Clearance Level Red in most cases, since it encompasses both Level Red and Yellow.
- Clearance Level Platinum has the highest clearance and security access to all levels.