With a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training, it is possible to begin a career as a transportation security officer. Transportation security officers inspect passengers and goods that are being transported by bus, rail, air or ship.
Transportation security officers, or transportation security screeners, inspect passengers, baggage, equipment, and cargo at airports, rail stations, or bus terminals, following the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA). They are trained to screen passengers at security checkpoints, paying attention to detail while treating the travelers with respect. The job often requires weekend, evening and holiday work. Applicants need a high school diploma, GED certificate or security experience.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED certificate; security experience may be substituted|
|Other Requirements||U.S. citizen, proficiency in spoken English|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||-9%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$39,310|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Job Duties of Transportation Security Officers
A transportation security officer's tasks include checking luggage or packages manually or screening with x-ray equipment in order to identify hazardous items and keep them from being loaded onto public forms of transportation. They identify potential security risks by observing the behavior of travelers as they move through terminal areas. Responsibilities also include scrutinizing ticketing and identification materials to recognize potential security risks.
Transportation security officers screen passengers going through security checkpoints by using any combination of visual observation, pat-down searches, metal-detector screening, explosive trace detection, and x-ray devices. They report specific findings or incidents to management or law enforcement to help identify weaknesses in established protocol or flaws in terminal and equipment design. Officers need to conduct all duties with a focus on customer service, while assisting passengers who have questions or special needs. Officers working for the TSA especially are expected to display honesty and flexibility, be accountable, work well with a team, and have strong communication skills.
According to the U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary earned by a transportation security screener was $39,310 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that there were 41,820 transportation security officers employed at that time.
The BLS predicted employment decline of 9% for transportation security screeners from 2014-2024. The highest number of transportation security screeners were located in and surrounding New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as reported by the BLS.
Transportation security officers require a variety of skills, including communication and customer service, in this field. Those planning to pursue this career will need their high school diploma or GED. A decline in the employment of transportation security officers is expected from 2014-2024.