Airport security officers, also known as transportation security officers, ensure the safety of travelers by recognizing and preventing security threats. For those interested in formal education in this field, certificate training programs are available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Curriculum lasts one semester and is a combination of classroom lectures and direct experience under the supervision of experienced professionals. Participants learn how to gather, analyze, recognize and treat security intelligence and threats. They are also taught how to utilize innovative screening, x-ray and monitoring equipment.
Only a high school diploma or GED is necessary for admission. Given the physical demands (e.g. lengthy standing periods and handling heavy baggage), and sensitive information elements of the training, applicants may also have to pass fitness and mental health examinations and a comprehensive background check.
Homeland Security Certificate
Through courses in these certificate programs, students gain skills in emergency management and planning, crisis prevention, and weapons and firearms usage. Examples of other core subjects include:
- Security management
- Domestic and international terrorism
- Emergency preparedness
- Security assessment and prevention strategies
- Security law and regulations
Graduates are able to work for private security contractors and airport security agencies. Airport security officers are not required to be licensed. To maintain employment, individuals must pass occasional security tests and meet financial eligibility requirements, as employees cannot have excessive debt or delinquent federal and/or state taxes. Many employers offer continuing education opportunities in the form of workshops to stay abreast of ever-changing security assessment practices and new technology and equipment.
Airport security officers learn from a combination of coursework and hands-on training. Certificate programs prepare individuals for a number of security related jobs.