Airline Security Staff Jobs

Ever since 9-11 there has been a greater need for security around the airline industry – both on the ground and in the air. While there are different agencies – both Federal and private – that handle the security in various places in an airport, much of it now falls into the hands of Federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), which is part of Homeland Security. In some places, however, this is put into the hands of private contractors.

TSA Worker at Seattle SeaTac International Airport

The TSA offers a lot in the way of training for its officers, and it also has several strong career paths with counseling for those who want to get ahead. There are also a number of non-Federal agencies who work with the TSA in Screening Partnership Programs (SPP) at various airports across the US. Those who have military experience in security do have an edge on being hired as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO). The TSA provides security at more than 450 airports in this country. Being a government agency, there are also plenty of excellent benefits.

Responsibilities of Airline Security Staff

The job of airline security staff can be focused to a specific function, or it can be more generalized. The primary task of a TSO is to perform security screening of both people and property. They screen people through the use of walk-through metal detectors, hand-held wands, or pat-down searches. Property, such as baggage or cargo, is also screened in order to prevent dangerous items from being brought aboard a plane in luggage. It is also their responsibility to control entry and exit points at an airport or other places of transportation.

Did You Know? The TSA does not handle the security and scanning for all airports? They subcontract the screening and security at most smaller airports to approved contractors.

Some security members are located at patrol gates or fixed posts around the airfields and check ID badges of entrants and determine whether automobiles, along with their drivers and passengers, are authorized to enter. Other staff patrols the airfield perimeter to make sure that there are no holes in the fences and watch for prowlers. Some security staff carry weapons and have the power of arrest.

An airport security staff member needs to be willing to work different shifts. They are required to be familiar with FAA security procedures for airports, and must work with them and the local police when necessary. It is also their task to help perform background checks, keep logs of all personnel accessing restricted areas, and will help manage the airport’s computerized access control system.

Training and Degrees Needed

The actual requirements will partially depend on the size of the airport and the tasks that are involved. In some cases, you will only need to be 18 and have a H.S. Diploma or GED. In other situations, possibly even at the same airport, you will need to have at least one year of college, or have a background in military security, or actual experience in law enforcement. Unless you are in law enforcement currently, you may also need to be to trained and licensed as a security guard according to the laws of the state where you live.

Airports will usually provide training when it is needed. You may need experience in closed-circuit TV systems and basic computer operations, and be able to hold investigations when needed. Being physically fit is essential to the job, too, and good communication skills are needed for writing reports and dealing with the public.

Salary and Benefits

If you should decide to join the TSA, there are many benefits that you can enjoy. This includes things like ten paid holidays per year, paid training, a choice of health insurance programs, personal leave, transportation subsidies, Thrift Savings Plans, retirement plan, uniform allowance, and more.

The pay scale for TSO’s, including all levels, ranges from $27,000 to over $45,000. The size of the airport and its location will also be a factor in the salary involved in airport security staff jobs. Openings with the TSA can be found here.

Quick Summary:

  • Airports need security personnel and not all of them are government employees.
  • A background in military security or law enforcement gives you a hiring advantage to work with the TSA.
  • The TSA has great benefits and a strong career track for those in this government agency.


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