If you want a career with the federal government that can be fulfilling and allows you to help people on a daily basis, you may want to consider working for the Transportation Security Administration as a TSA Agent. In this job, you will be the face of the agency that ensures millions of people fly safely to their destinations each day. If you are ready to make a difference with your job and begin an exciting career path, here is how to start your career with the Transportation Security Administration.
What is a TSA Agent?
A TSA Agent is officially called a Transportation Security Officer (TSO). To excel in this career, you will need to possess and be able to utilize a variety of skills.
First, you will need to be a people person. As a TSA Agent, you will spend most of your day interacting with the public, providing excellent customer service, answering questions, and helping people feel safe and secure as they prepare to board their flights.
Next, a TSA Agent must be adaptable and dependable. These attributes are crucial to having success in this job, since you will be expected to respond quickly to situations that can change in an instant.
Finally, a TSA Agent is always observing people and situations around them. On the job, you will need to be a person who pays attention to the smallest of details and is very observant of anything that may seem out of the ordinary. Once you begin this career, no two days will ever be the same.
TSA Job Responsibilities
While many people assume a TSA Agent only screens passengers as they are preparing to board their flights, there is actually much more to this job that keeps it exciting each day.
Your most important daily responsibilities will be controlling entry and exit points at the TSA checkpoint in the airport terminal, operating screening equipment, and using other technology to identify prohibited items in baggage or cargo, conducting pat downs and bag searches, ensuring prohibited items do not make their way onto aircraft, and interacting with the public by giving directions and responding to various inquiries by passengers and others.
Additionally, TSA Agents may occasionally help secure high-profile events or provide security to VIPs who may be preparing to board flights.
How to Become a TSA Agent
To become a TSA Agent, you will need to meet certain TSA job requirements.
The basic educational requirement needed to become a TSA Agent is a high school diploma, GED, or other type of equivalent certificate. Of course, college courses or a degree in emergency management and homeland security could help increase your chances of being hired.
In this career, you will be glad to know TSA career opportunities are available to applicants who have different levels of experience and different backgrounds. However, keep in mind that you will need to be a U.S. citizen or national to be hired as a TSA Agent.
If you want to be hired as a TSA Agent, there are several requirements you must meet. These include being able to pass an in-depth background investigation, a federal drug screening, and a medical evaluation. You will also need to pass a credit check and criminal background check, and in certain situations be registered for Selective Service.
Since airports operate 24/7, a TSA Agent will also be expected to work various shifts, including overnights and overtime when needed. Also, if you are chosen for TSA training, you must be able to complete a training program at the TSA Academy, located in Glynco, GA, at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Comprising 80 hours of training, the TSA will cover all your travel and lodging expenses.
As mentioned earlier, you will need to have excellent people and communication skills, be detail-oriented, able to adapt to changing schedules and circumstances, be committed to providing excellent customer service, and give passengers and others a positive impression of the Transportation Security Administration.
If you are hired, expect the TSA hiring process to average about 90 days. Your first step will be to go online to USAJOBS, find available TSA jobs in your area, and review the job description to see if you wish to apply.
To apply for a federal government position with the TSA, you will need to create a profile on USAJOBS. However, you are not required to submit a resume with your application.
After creating your profile and applying for an available position, you may be asked to take TSA Computer-Based Testing, which determines your proficiency in English and other competencies critical for success as a TSA Agent.
Your next step will be a structured interview, also called the airport assessment, where you will be fingerprinted. In this interview, the interviewer will give you hypothetical situations and assess your answers. In addition, the interviewer will ask you questions about how you behaved in past situations that were similar to some you may encounter as a TSA Agent.
Next will be your medical evaluation and drug screening. This will include tests to evaluate your color vision, hearing, sight, and a joint mobility exam that will demonstrate you have the ability to lift or carry up to 50 pounds, stand for up to four hours, and walk up to three miles during your shift. As for your drug test, your urine sample cannot test positive for any illegal drugs, including marijuana.
During your background check, you must not have certain criminal convictions or delinquent debt situations. These include convictions for murder, assault, taking a firearm onto an aircraft, or being delinquent on child support or student loan payments.
If all goes well, your name will be placed into the “ready pool,” where your application will stay active for one year, pending acceptance and job training.
How Much Does a TSA Agent Make?
Projected job growth is expected to approach four percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Up-to-date salary information can be found by visiting the BLS website.
Available Student Internship Programs
Three internship programs are available for aspiring TSA Agents. Paid internships include the Student Career Experience Program and the Student Temporary Employment Program, and the unpaid Student Volunteer Service Program. To be eligible for these internships, you will need to be at least 16 years old, enrolled in an accredited U.S. high school, tech school, or college, and have a GPA of at least 2.0.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Available in person and online, the Post University emergency management and homeland security program can help prepare you with the knowledge and skills you need to seek for a career working for the Transportation Security Administration. With day, evening, and weekend options available, you do not need to put your job on hold to advance your career. Contact our admissions advisor or apply today to make a real-world difference in national security.
Though you will need to meet various criteria to be hired as a TSA Agent, the rewards are well worth the hard work. If you want a job that allows you to make a real difference and have a long career as a federal government employee, becoming a TSA Agent will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.