TSA Careers

According to the Transportation Security Administration, about 50,000 transportation security offers, also known as transportation security screeners, screen more than 1.8 million passengers each day throughout the nation’s 450-plus airports.  In 2012 alone, transportation security screeners detected more than 1,500 guns alone.

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Following September 11, 2001, the newly created Transportation Security Administration (TSA) took over all security operations at the nation’s airports, which included deploying a federal workforce for screening all airline passengers and baggage. In an effort to continue providing the strongest level of security for the nation’s transportation systems, the TSA became part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

Transportation Security Screener Jobs: Duties and Responsibilities

Transportation security screeners are those professionals called upon to provide frontline security as to prevent dangerous objects in baggage and on travelers from being transported onto an aircraft and trains. They use some of the most cutting-edge imaging equipment to perform their jobs. Their job duties include:

  • Conducting screenings at airports
  • Maintaining communication at all times with supervisors regarding vulnerable areas of security
  • Assisting in the efficient flow of passengers through screening checkpoints
  • Utilizing security equipment, including x-ray machines, hand wands and other imaging equipment at security checkpoints
  • Monitoring metal detector screening equipment
  • Controlling passenger entry into security checkpoints

Although the most visible transportation security screeners are those individuals working at commercial airport checkpoints, they are but just one layer of security provided by the TSA. In fact, transportation security screeners are also called upon to:

  • Gather and analyze intelligence
  • Check passenger manifests against watch lists
  • Conduct canine team searches in airports


Who Employs Transportation Security Screeners?

Although the federal government, through the Department of Homeland Security, employs the majority of transportation security screeners, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, or ATSA, began establishing pilot projects at a number of airports in 2004 to introduce employees of qualified private companies to act as transportation security screeners. Under strict, federal oversight, these employees are required to meet the same requirements applicable to federal screeners. To date, 16 airports are participating in this program.

How to Qualify for a Transportation Security Screener Jobs

Individuals must meet a set of basic requirements to qualify for transportation security screener jobs, including:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be proficient in English
  • Must possess a high school diploma or GED or have at least one full year of work experience in the security industry, in the aviation industry, as an x-ray technician, or in aviation screening


Transportation Security Screener Salary Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation security screeners, as of May 2012, earned a median annual salary of $36,850, with the top 10 percent earning $44,650.

The industries with the highest levels of employment during this time included:

  1. Federal Executive Branch
  2. Support Activities for Air Transportation
  3. Scheduled Air Transportation
  4. Local Government
  5. Freight Transportation Arrangement

The top-paying industries for transportation security screeners (and their annual mean salary) include:

  1. Rail Transportation: $45,990
  2. Federal Executive Branch: $37,310
  3. Local Government: $35,860
  4. Support Activities for Air Transportation: $34,050
  5. Scheduled Air Transportation: $32,650

A recent job listing for a transportation security screener through the TSA revealed a salary range of $29,131 to $43,697.

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