Transportation Security Officer: Job Duties, Salary and Outlook

Transportation security officers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, salary and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

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 (2012-2022)*6%
Median Salary (2013)* $37,090

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 (www.tsa.gov).

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary earned by a transportation security screener was $37,090 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that there were 44,450 transportation security officers employed by the federal government at that time.

Career Outlook

The BLS predicted employment growth of 6% for transportation security screeners from 2012-2022. The need to continue keeping on the alert for possible crime and terrorism will contribute to this increase. The highest number of transportation security screeners were located in and surrounding Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and Chicago, Illinois, as reported by the BLS.

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