Transportation Security Officer: Job Duties, Salary and Outlook

Sep 13, 2019

A transportation security officer requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, salary, and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

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What Is a Transportation Security Officer?

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. For those interested in getting an educational background, there are security guard certificate programs available.

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 (2018-2028)* 1% for transportation security screeners
Median Salary (2018)* $41,490 for transportation security screeners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

TSO Job Description

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. The TSA job description is very similar, but their officers are especially expected to display honesty and flexibility, be accountable, work well with a team, and have strong communication skills.

Employees in this field generally work indoors and often wear some kind of protective gear. Transportation security officers should expect to work with a team and also should be prepared to interact with frustrated, stressed, or angry people. Professionals in this career must find the balance between customer service and strict adherence to important rules and regulations.

Transportation Security Officer Salary Information

According to the U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary earned by a transportation security screener was $41,490 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that there were 49,100 transportation security officers employed at that time.

Transportation Security Officer Career Outlook

The BLS predicted employment growth of only 1% for transportation security screeners from 2018-2028. The highest number of transportation security screeners were located in and surrounding Florida, New York, and Texas, as reported by the BLS. The industry with the highest level of employment for transportation security screeners by a significant margin is the Federal Executive Branch.

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. Minimal growth in the employment of transportation security officers is expected from 2018-2028 and those wishing to advance their career may be interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in security management.

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