Transportation Security Agent – Career Guide

According to O*NET Online, Transportation security officers (aka TSA Agents) conduct screening of passengers, baggage, or cargo to ensure compliance with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations.

They may also operate basic security equipment such as x-ray machines and hand wands at screening checkpoints.

TSAs work at airports, ports, docks, and train stations throughout the country.

The Department of Transportation Security is a branch of Homeland Security and is charged with helping with the fight against terrorism by investigating passengers to ensure the safety of all that are boarding the airplane, boat, train, or other vehicle.

Job Duties

Transportation security officers provide the first line of security for travelers.

Transportation security plays the role of identifying dangerous objects that may be on a passenger or in the baggage of the passenger.

In order to prevent these potentially dangerous items from boarding the plane, a transportation security officer will use imaging equipment and electronic detection devices to remove the items.

Passengers who are found with items that are deemed to be dangerous may be detained by the security of the office.

Airports are open all day every day, which means that there is a need for transportation security around the clock.

These positions may require an individual to work irregular shifts/hours, holidays, weekends, as well as extended hours.

How to be a TSA AgentRequirements

In order to be eligible to become a TSA agent, a person must be a citizen of the United States.

They must also have at least a high school diploma or a GED.

In addition, a year of experience working as a security officer, as an aviation screener, or as an x-ray technician, is required before a person will be considered for this position.

Most states also require guards to be licensed by the state, especially if they are required to carry a firearm.


Most positions with the TSA only require an individual to have a high school diploma.

However, it is recommended that a person obtain a secondary education in an area such as criminal investigation, criminology, security, police officer training, or another area of this nature.

In addition, an individual will need to pass a certification examination.

Once you begin working on the job, expect to have to go through additional training and pass certification examinations as well.

Not being able to pass certification examinations is grounds for being dismissed.


All candidates for these jobs will need to pass a background investigation check.

This background check will include a credit check.

A drug and alcohol screening will be given and potential candidates must pass these as well.

There are also physical qualifications that must be met.

With new security laws put in place after 9/11, more and more airports are hiring transportation security.

Screeners are the most abundant of the positions available in this field.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Security Guards Handbook 2020), transportation security officers can expect to make $31,050 per year.

These figures are based on national data, not school-specific information. Salaries can vary depending on experience, location, client, and type of work.

Overall employment of security guards is projected to grow 15 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

Federal benefits are also typically provided to individuals who work in these positions; this includes health insurance retirement, sick leave, and paid vacation.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
New Hampshire90$51,460$24.74$61,150$41,450
New Jersey1,460$47,390$22.78$55,640$35,360
New Mexico170$45,400$21.83$51,380$37,340
New York3,500$47,580$22.88$54,560$41,000
North Carolina1,210$45,020$21.65$52,640$36,710
North Dakota140$53,180$25.57$61,320$44,100
South Carolina400$43,470$20.90$51,480$35,280
South Dakota90$45,450$21.85$54,310$38,200
West Virginia100$42,390$20.38$50,150$35,280

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $62,850.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • Massachusetts - $62,850
  • Washington - $59,010
  • Colorado - $56,640
  • Minnesota - $55,140
  • Vermont - $53,500
  • North Dakota - $53,180
  • California - $52,170
  • New Hampshire - $51,460
  • Maine - $50,630
  • Kentucky - $50,360
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Transportation Security Screeners, OCC Code 33-9093, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Michael Morales

About Michael Morales

Michael Morales is the Webmaster and Editor in Chief for With a strong background in Web Publishing and Internet Marketing, he currently works as an independent consultant. A former paramedic and ems educator, he enjoys punishing himself doing triathlons and endurance sports. Michael currently lives in sunny Northern California, home of the highest tax rates in the world.

4 Responses to Transportation Security Agent – Career Guide

  1. Avatar
    Kyle Carlos #

    This career provides opportunities for professional growth and advancement, as agents can take on supervisory roles and access various specialized areas within transportation security.

  2. Avatar
    Jason Crump #

    They receive extensive training, equipping them with valuable skills in security procedures, conflict resolution, and customer service.

  3. Avatar
    Chris Morrell #

    The job typically involves diverse responsibilities, from passenger screening to operation security equipment, providing a dynamic and engaging work environment.

  4. Avatar
    Edwin Gordon #

    These agents play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of travelers and the security of transportation systems, contributing to public safety.

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