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Career profile Transport Security Officer

Also known as Security Screener, Transportation Security Officer (TSO)

Transport Security Officer

Also known as Security Screener, Transportation Security Officer (TSO)

Interests Profile
  • Enterprising
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$37,090 - $53,540 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Monitoring
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Law and Government
Core tasks
  • Inspect carry-on items, using x-ray viewing equipment, to determine whether items contain objects that warrant further investigation.
  • Search carry-on or checked baggage by hand when it is suspected to contain prohibited items such as weapons.
  • View images of checked bags and cargo, using remote screening equipment, and alert baggage screeners or handlers to any possible problems.
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What does a Transport Security Officer do?

Transport Security Officers conduct screening of passengers, baggage, or cargo to ensure compliance with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations.

In addition, Transport Security Officers may operate basic security equipment such as x-ray machines and hand wands at screening checkpoints.

What kind of tasks does a Transport Security Officer perform regularly?

Transport Security Officers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Inspect carry-on items, using x-ray viewing equipment, to determine whether items contain objects that warrant further investigation.
  • Search carry-on or checked baggage by hand when it is suspected to contain prohibited items such as weapons.
  • 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.
  • Test baggage for any explosive materials, using equipment such as explosive detection machines or chemical swab systems.
  • Notify supervisors or other appropriate personnel when security breaches occur.
  • Perform pat-down or hand-held wand searches of passengers who have triggered machine alarms, who are unable to pass through metal detectors, or who have been randomly identified for such searches.
  • Decide whether baggage that triggers alarms should be searched or should be allowed to pass through.
  • Send checked baggage through automated screening machines, and set bags aside for searching or rescreening as indicated by equipment.
  • Follow those who breach security until police or other security personnel arrive to apprehend them.
  • Inform other screeners when baggage should not be opened because it might contain explosives.
  • Inspect checked baggage for signs of tampering.
  • Ask passengers to remove shoes and divest themselves of metal objects prior to walking through metal detectors.
  • Close entry areas following security breaches or reopen areas after receiving notification that the airport is secure.
  • Challenge suspicious people, requesting their badges and asking what their business is in a particular areas.
  • Patrol work areas to detect any suspicious items.
  • Contact police directly in cases of urgent security issues, using phones or two-way radios.
  • Record information about any baggage that sets off alarms in monitoring equipment.
  • Watch for potentially dangerous persons whose pictures are posted at checkpoints.
  • Contact leads or supervisors to discuss objects of concern that are not on prohibited object lists.
  • Confiscate dangerous items and hazardous materials found in opened bags and turn them over to airlines for disposal.
  • Monitor passenger flow through screening checkpoints to ensure order and efficiency.
  • Inform passengers of how to mail prohibited items to themselves, or confiscate these items.
  • Provide directions and respond to passenger inquiries.
  • Direct passengers to areas where they can pick up their baggage after screening is complete.

The above responsibilities are specific to Transport Security Officers. More generally, Transport Security Officers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is a Transport Security Officer salary?

The median salary for a Transport Security Officer is $44,300, and the average salary is $44,920. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Transport Security Officer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Transport Security Officers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Transport Security Officers earn less than $37,090 per year, 25% earn less than $40,330, 75% earn less than $47,950, and 90% earn less than $53,540.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Transport Security Officers is expected to change by 0.2%, and there should be roughly 4,500 open positions for Transport Security Officers every year.

Median annual salary
$44,300
Typical salary range
$37,090 - $53,540
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
0.2%

What personality traits are common among Transport Security Officers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Transport Security Officer are usually higher in their Enterprising, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Transport Security Officers typically have strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Also, Transport Security Officers typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Transport Security Officers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Transport Security Officer tend to value Support, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Transport Security Officers very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Transport Security Officers strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Transport Security Officers moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Transport Security Officers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, dependability, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Transport Security Officers, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Transport Security Officers need?

Working as a Transport Security Officer usually requires a high school diploma.

Transport Security Officers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Transport Security Officers

  • 1.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 20.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 32.4% completed some college coursework
  • 12.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 25.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 6.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Transport Security Officers

Transport Security Officers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as public safety and security, customer and personal service, or law and government knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Transport Security Officers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

Important Abilities needed by Transport Security Officers

Transport Security Officers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Transport Security Officers need abilities such as problem sensitivity, selective attention, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Transport Security Officers, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Selective Attention
The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Transport Security Officers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Transport Security Officers frequently use skills like monitoring, speaking, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Transport Security Officers, ranked by their relative importance.

Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.