Transportation Security

Transportation security officers (aka TSA Agents) conduct screening of passengers, baggage, or cargo to ensure compliance with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations.  They may also operate basic security equipment such as x-ray machines and hand wands at screening checkpoints.  TSAs work at airports, ports, docks, and train stations throughout the country. The department of transportation security is a branch of homeland security and charged with helping with the fight against terrorism by investigating passengers to ensure the safety of all that are boarding the airplane, boat, train, or other vehicle.

Job Duties

Transportation security officers provide the first line of security for travelers. Transportation security plays the role of identifying dangerous objects that may be on a passenger or in the baggage of the passenger.

In order to prevent these potentially dangerous items from boarding the plane, a transportation security officer will use imaging equipment and electronic detection devices to remove the items. Passengers that are found with items that are deemed to be dangerous may be detained by the security of office.

Airports are open all day every day, which means that there is need for transportation security around the clock. These positions may require an individual to work irregular shifts/hours, holidays, weekends, as well as extended hours.


In order to be eligible to become a TSA agent a person must be a citizen of the United States. They must also have at least a high school diploma or a GED. In addition, a year of experience working as a security officer, as an aviation screener, or as an x-ray technician, is required before a person will be considered for this position.


Most positions with the TSA only require an individual to have a high school diploma. However, it is recommended that a person obtain a secondary education in an area such as criminal investigation, criminology, security, police officer training, or another area of this nature. This will increase your chances of becoming employed with transportation security.


All candidates for these jobs will need to pass a background investigation check. This background check will include a credit check. A drug and alcohol screening will be given and potential candidates must pass these as well. There are also physical qualifications that must be met.


The training for TSA agents includes forty hours of classroom training and sixty hours of training on the job. In addition, an individual will need to pass a certification examination. Once you begin working on the job, expect to have to go through additional training and pass certification examinations as well. Not being able to pass certification examinations is ground for being dismissed.

There are many jobs available for transportation security. With new security laws put in place after 9/11, more and more airports are hiring transportation security. Screeners are the most abundant of the positions available in this field.

The average wage for transportation security officers that work as security screeners in airports is $37,090 annually (, 2013 stats). The pay rate is based on a person’s experience and education plus the pay from the locality. Federal benefits are also provided to individuals that work in these positions; this includes health insurance retirement, sick leave, and paid vacations.