Transportation Security Officer

Quick Facts: Transportation Security Officer

2010 Median Pay$36,910 per year or $17.74 per hour
Entry-Level EducationHS Diploma
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
On-the-job TrainingModerate-Ongoing
Number of Jobs, 201048,000
Job Outlook, 2010-2010% to 19%
Employment Change, 2010-2010,400

What Transportation Security Officers Do:
Transportation Security Officers may be employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or for a private-sector firm. The TSO conducts passenger screenings that comply with TSA security standards.

How to Become an Transportation Security Officer:
A high school diploma and on the job training will qualify you to become a TSO. Previous experience in a similar field is helpful but not required.

Job Outlook:
The employment outlook for Transportation Security Officers is projected to grow by 10% to 19% from 2010-2020.

Job Description:
The Transportation Security Officer is responsible for implementing security-screening procedures that are central to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) objectives and that will serve to protect the traveling public by preventing any deadly or dangerous objects from being transported onto an aircraft.

This is a Non-Exempt position.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Operating screening equipment to identify dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and on passengers, and preventing those objects from being transported onto aircraft.
  • Performing searches, to include hand-wand and pat-down searches.
  • Controlling terminal entry and exit points.
  • Interacting with the public, giving directions and responding to inquiries.
  • Maintaining focus and awareness while working in a stressful environment which includes noise from alarms, machinery and people, crowd distractions, time pressure, and disruptive and angry passengers, in order to preserve the professional ability to identify and locate potentially life threatening or mass destruction devices, and to make effective decisions in both crisis and routine situations.
  • Record information about any baggage that sets off alarms in monitoring equipment.
  • Locate suspicious bags pictured in printouts sent from remote monitoring areas, and set these bags aside for inspection.
  • Contact police directly in cases of urgent security issues, using phones or two-way radios.
  • Test baggage for any explosive materials, using equipment such as explosive detection machines or chemical swab systems.
  • Check passengers’ tickets to ensure that they are valid, and to determine whether passengers have designations that require special handling, such as providing photo identification.
  • Participate in information briefings concerning security-sensitive or classified information.

Knowledge Skills and Abilities Required:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • One year of full-time work experience in the security industry, aviation screening, or as an X-ray technician preferred.
  • Ability to learn the theories, dynamics, and factors underlying the aviation screening process to enable authoritative and independent handling of screening functions.
  • Ability to learn to operate basic security equipment such as X-ray machines and hand wands at screening checkpoints.
  • Ability to work with persons of diverse backgrounds.
  • Ability to communicate non-technical information effectively to others.

Circumstantial Requirements:

  • Pass a background investigation including a credit and criminal check.
  • Pass a Drug Screening and Medical Evaluation.
  • No default on $7,500 or more in delinquent debt (but for some bankruptcies).
  • No delinquent Federal or State taxes or past due child support payments.
  • Selective Service registration required.

Physical Demands:
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to stand, walk, talk, and hear both in person and by telephone or two way radio; use hands to finger, handle, feel or operate standard equipment, and reach with hands and arms. The employee occasionally lifts and carries objects weighing up to 50 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision and the ability to adjust focus.

The employee is regularly required to use oral and written communication skills; read and interpret data; thoroughly analyze and solve problems; exercise sound judgment in the absence of specific guidelines; establish priorities and meet intense and changing deadlines.

The employee typically works in interior building conditions; the noise level is usually moderate. However, the employee is occasionally exposed to loud aircraft engine noise, and dust and fumes.

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