Transportation security officers work for the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure safe air travel. These individuals are responsible for screening passengers, testing and inspecting luggage, and checking and confirming travel documents. To become a transportation security officer, you generally need a high school diploma or its equivalent and to pass a criminal background check and medical exam.
You must be 18 years of age to work as a transportation security officer and have successfully completed high school or the equivalent educational level. Transportation security officers are also required to be US citizens and pass a medical examination. Those applying for a job with the TSA typically should provide all requested documentation with their application. Candidates normally interview with a local officer and may be invited to complete a second phone interview.
A background in law enforcement may also be helpful for those seeking to become a transportation security officer. Candidates with law enforcement training may be given favor due to their training and experience in handling stressful situations and detecting suspicious behavior. Security officers should also be able to make independent decisions and quick judgments in stressful situations if necessary.
A successful TSA security officer also may benefit from good communication skills and patience. Tired travelers can be difficult to deal with, and security officers often must handle angry people with a cool head. Making sure everyone follows safety regulations while maintaining a calm environment can be challenging.
Job specific training generally is provided for all applicants who are hired and successfully pass a drug screening and criminal background check. Security officers are trained to use airport security equipment, screen baggage, and detect the early signs of threatening or aggressive behavior. Trainees are also taught how to properly check identification and how to identify fraudulent documents.
Training to become a transportation security officer generally requires 180 hours to complete. It generally includes on-the-job and classroom sessions, followed by a certification exam. TSA officers may be required to complete additional training, drills, and exercises, as well as completing continuing education courses and information sessions.
The TSA generally requires all of its security officers to complete an additional 22 hours of training each quarter. Quarterly training is an opportunity for all employees to learn about the latest screening technology and new procedures that are implemented for homeland security purposes. Officers may also be required to complete spontaneous procedural drills and testing.