Working as an agent for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) gives you a way to launch a career in law enforcement. The TSA is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. The agency was created after September 11, 2001, and its purpose is to provide screening for passengers and their baggage on commercial transportation systems.
The TSA is a large organization employing about 50,000 people. In addition to the inspectors at airports and bus terminals, they are also air marshals, cargo inspectors, aviation regulatory inspectors, airport security, subway security, and many management positions.
Getting into the TSA is not difficult because there are only a few basic requirements. You need to be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old. High school education is needed and you need to be healthy and able to pass a drug screening test.
A background investigation will also need to be conducted. This will include a criminal check and a credit check. Some additional experience is required before you can be accepted. You will need at least one year of experience of work as a security officer, an x-ray technician, or as an aircraft screener.
Once the basic requirements have been met, further screening is done through several more tests. Some of them will be computer-based, such as tests for your proficiency in the English language and your ability to understand and interpret x-ray scans.
Medical testing will also be given to determine your level of hearing, vision and color vision, and joint mobility. You will also go through an interview to test your ability to work with teams and the public and to make decisions. You may also go through more drug testing and further investigations into your background.
People seeking to get into the TSA will take courses that work toward a formal degree. A degree shows a greater level of interest in law enforcement and may help you get the job. Some of the best degrees to pursue include police science, criminal justice, sociology, criminology, and more.
After you are accepted into the Transportation Security Administration, you will go through a training program. This training consists of 120 hours of a combination of classroom and on-the-job work. 40 hours will be in the classroom and the other 60 or more will be provided on-the-job. Much of the training will be conducted online.
The training will also include classes on how to screen people, how to search property that is accessible, search baggage that has been checked, and how to operate the x-ray machine. They will also be instructed on how to operate the machines that test for the presence of explosives.
Every year, all employees of the TSA are required to go through a training and re-certification process. If you fail the test, you have one more opportunity to retake it. Failing it a second time means automatic firing.
The Work Involved
The goal of TSA screening is to prevent dangerous objects such as guns, knives, or explosives from getting on board commercial transportation systems. Since these transportation hubs are open all hours of the day and night, TSA employees can also expect to be placed working on any shift.
The work involves general scanning of individuals and their baggage, or cargo. When alarms are sounded on passengers, the TSA agent will need to use a hand-wand to scan the person for metal objects, which may include disabled people. A pat-down may also be needed. X-ray scanners will be used to scan luggage and carry-on baggage. People may also need to be searched if suspected objects set off an alarm or are seen on the scanner. Tickets will also need to be checked and possible photo IDs.
As can be imagined, there are several skills that a TSA agent will need for their daily work. Screeners need to be able to deal with people constantly. Some of them will not be a problem but others will be angry and rude. Being able to keep calm will go a long way toward success in this job. You also will be required to stand for long hours and lift objects all day long. Sensitivity to possible problems is also necessary, which means you can detect when there is something wrong.
If you are considering a job with the TSA but have no-prequalifying experience, you can start by getting trained as a security guard. The training must be provided by an organization that is authorized to train people to work as an officer in law enforcement.
You can get your training as a security guard from Security Guard Training Central. Security guards have different requirements in different states. You can learn more about the training available in your state by following the link.