Becoming a TSA Agent: Basic Requirements and Hiring Process [2022]

On this page, you’ll learn about what a TSA agent does, how to become a TSA agent, and on-the-job training for transportation security officers (TSO).

The page includes information on the following topics:

  • What Is a Transportation Security Administration Agent?
  • TSA hiring events.
  • TSA job application.
  • TSA hiring process.
  • TSA training and schedule.
  • TSA agent salary and job benefits.
  • TSA agent jobs.

Let’s get started

Check out these sample questions for the TSA CBT assessment.

What Is a Transportation Security Administration Agent?

TSA agents, which are sometimes referred to as Transportation Security Officers (TSO), are federal security officers responsible for providing safety for air travelers and making sure that dangerous materials and people are not allowed to enter transportation facilities.

As a TSA agent, you will be working directly in one airport, unlike an airline host where you work for an airline and travel.

Work Responsibilities of TSA Agents'

Below, we’ve compiled a list of what TSA agents are responsible for on a daily basis of working at the airport:

  • Being on the lookout for potential suspicious passengers, luggage and/or threats.
  • Checking passenger tickets and I.D. before allowing them through security.
  • Working the security line.
  • Helping to inform passengers of all in-place security protocols including but not limited to mask mandates, the removal of footwear in the security line, the removal of electronics in the security line, and more.
  • Working luggage screening and being on the lookout for potentially dangerous or illegal items in passenger’s bags.
  • Helping to mitigate long lines and crowds at security while maintaining excellent customer service skills.
  • Working additional screening booths for passengers at security.
  • When necessary, informing and working with law enforcement to begin and complete investigations.

TSA Agent Requirements

Interested Applicants must meet minimal criteria before applying and being considered for TSA hiring.

TSA Agents are required, but are not limited to the following basic requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Have U.S. citizenship.
  • Males born after Jan.1 must be registered for selective service.
  • Have a High School Diploma.
  • Having fluency in English and other languages is a bonus.
  • Pass a Background check.
  • Pass a Drug test.
  • Pass a Potential credit check.
  • Pass a Medical Evaluation.

Education Requirements

In order to apply for a job as a TSA Security Officer, it’s enough to meet basic requirements and have either a GED or High School Diploma, however it may not be enough to be accepted.

How to Gain an Edge Over Your Competitors?

It would help candidates stand out if they also hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in psychology or criminal justice.

The TSA’s application process can be very competitive even if you meet the basic requirements. The majority of TSA Security Officers have completed additional education besides a high school diploma, some hold extensive experience in similar positions on their resumes.

Previous Job Experience

To increase your chances of being accepted as a TSA Agent you must have at least one year of experience in security or as an x-ray technician. Private security or police work can help you achieve this. There is also the possibility of joining the US military and getting a criminal justice degree as well.

There are several ways to obtain this through military service:

  • Military tuition assistance can help you earn your degree while in the service.
  • Attending college full-time after training and enlisting in the national guard or reserves.
  • Join the ROTC program and earn your bachelor’s degree and commission.

Getting a job in one of these areas will also help you decide whether homeland security work is for you as well as help give you a tremendous advantage over other candidates.

TSA Hiring Events 2022

Taking part in TSA events will give you a better understanding of possible career opportunities. You can start securing your future by searching for local events. Each event has a specific page on the company site that details:

  • The location of the event.
  • Event type.
  • What can you expect from the event.
  • How to prepare.
  • Your eligibility for the position you’re applying for.

Visit the following link for more information.

TSA Job Application

  1. Go to the USAJobs page.
  2. Enter the location to search for positions near you.
  3. Filter positions by work schedule: full-time or part-time.
  4. Review the job description and requirements.
  5. Click Apply and answer initial screening questions.
  6. Wait for a response.

There are a few steps you must take in order to submit the application successfully:

  1. Create a profile.
  2. Setting up an authentication method.
  3. Build a resume.

If you have prior military experience, mention it on your profile page.

TSA Hiring Process

Assuming you pass the initial screening of the TSA, you’ll be invited to begin the TSA hiring process, which is made out of 4 main steps: A TSA computer-based assessment, a thorough background investigation, a TSA interview, and a medical evaluation.

Step 1: TSA CBT Test
The test takes 2.5 hours to complete and includes two main parts: An object recognition part (15 seconds for each question); and an English section with 50-60 multiple-choice questions, including Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Written Communication questions.

Step 2: TSA Background Check
When doing a background check, TSA looks for offenses and factors that can disqualify the candidate, such as deceit, deception, false representation, and identity fraud.

Step 3: TSA In-person Interview
This stage includes an initial check-in stage, including a color vision test and a medical forms review. A panel of 2 – 6 interviewers will ask you questions during a standardized interview, focusing on soft skills such as Teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, flexibility, honesty, and integrity.

Step 4: TSA Medical Evaluation
You will undergo a three-stage medical evaluation designed to assess your health and ability to work. The evaluation will include A medical questionnaire, a hearing test, a physical exam, and a drug test.

TSA Training Schedule 2022

After being selected as a TSA Security Officer(TSO), you will undergo training in the federal training center in Glynco, Georgia.

The training in total is 120 hours and includes two phases:

The first phase focuses on technical skills and foundational knowledge and includes the following topics: Detecting terrorist threats, screening policies, risk-based security, workplace environment, effective communication, and command presence.

The second phase will consist of 80 hours of physical demonstrations/activities, computer-based X-ray simulators, facilitated discussions, and classroom lectures related to official standard operating procedures.

It is important to note that the Phase 2 training class is limited to 30 students and that students must maintain a 70% grade on all coursework to pass.

TSA Agent Salary

According to glassdoor the average salary for a TSA Agent (TSO) in the United States is $40,184, much lower than the average TSA salary of $53,419 per year.

Job Benefits

When you work for TSA you work for the federal government, so you are eligible for federal benefits, such as:

  • The Federal Employees Retirement System.
  • Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB).
  • Dental care, vision, long-term care, and life insurance coverage.
  • Annual and sick leaves, holidays, and overtime.
  • Federal Flexible Spending Account.
  • Workers Compensation Programs.
  • Employee Assistance Programs.

You can read more on each of the programs on the TSA benefits for employees page.

TSA Agent Jobs

There are entry and non entry-level TSA agent jobs.

The entry-level includes the Transportation Security Agent position, which includes the examination of passengers, luggage, and cargo at airports and train stations.

The non-entry-level jobs are split into three:

  • On-the-floor jobs with positions such as Lead TSO, Supervisory TSO, and K9 Handler.
  • Inspection jobs with positions such as TSO inspector and Supervisory Security Inspector.
  • Training jobs with positions such as Security Training Officer, Training Specialist, and Training Manager.