TSO Officer: Job Description,Benefits, Salary, and Training

Learn more about the TSO Officer position requirements, job description, salary, benefits, and transportation security responsibilities involved in ensuring passenger safety.

The page will cover the following:

  • What Is a Transportation Security Administration Officer?
  • TSO Job Description.
  • Transportation Security Officer Requirements.
  • Training of a TSA Transportation Security Officer.
  • TSO Officer Salary.
  • Transportation Security Administration Benefits.
  • TSO Officer Jobs and Career Opportunities.
  • About Transportation Security Administration.

Let’s dive in.

Read the TSA CBT assessment practice preparation guide. We’ll walk you through the TSA CBT test and provide the most comprehensive resource on x-ray and reading comprehension questions.

You can learn more about other aspects of what it’s like to work for the TSA, here.

What is a Transportation Security Administration Officer?

A TSO Officer is the first line of defense for the security of America’s airports. He or she is the officer who is responsible for screening and checking most passengers before their departure.


A TSO differs from the TSA in one important respect; the meaning of TSA is Transportation Security Administration; the agency responsible for aviation security. A TSO is a Transportation Security Officer; and he is an agent responsible for screening passengers at airports. The TSA employs TSOs.

TSO Job Description

The Transportation Security Officer standing at airport security checkpoints is responsible for directly screening members of the public before they board an airplane, including:

  • Basic questioning.
  • Physical examinations and pat-downs.
  • Searches of personal bags weighing up to 50 pounds.
  • Making use of special equipment such as X-ray scanners to monitor passengers and their belongings.

The TSO is also responsible for answering passenger questions, giving directions, and providing basic security at the entrances of terminals and boarding gates.

Agents must do their job in a thorough, courteous, and professional manner.

TSA TSO Job Description for Resume

When applying and submitting a resume for the TSA it would be smart if you put an emphasis on mentioning skills that will help you perform well on the job.

That is the skills that will help you to screen airport passengers, cargo, and bags for prohibited and dangerous objects and maintain efficient passenger traffic in airports and public transit systems.

As a transportation security officer, you need to be:

  • An excellent planner and organizer.
  • Skilled in using computers and computer programs.
  • Experienced in Data entry and typing.
  • With relevant background in US Government Security.
  • Solution-oriented person.
  • Dedicated, detail-oriented, and quick to learn.
  • Able to work well with people from a variety of cultures and ethnicities.

You should also meet TSA basic requirements.

Transportation Security Officer Requirements

The basic requirements for submitting an application to become a TSA officer are:

  • Have U.S. citizenship or nationality and be at least 18 years old.
  • Hold a High school diploma, GED, or an equivalent qualification.
  • Listed Member of Selective Service (Applies to males born after December 31, 1959).

It is possible for your application to be disqualified if you have delinquent federal or state taxes or unpaid child support payments.

In addition, the candidate must pass a federal drug examination, medical checkup, and criminal background check, work flexible shifts at odd hours, work overtime, and be willing to travel for training.

TSA Job Application and Hiring Process

To submit a job application and begin the TSO hiring process, applicants must meet certain minimal criteria mentioned above.

The next stage in the hiring process, require candidates to pass a TSA CBT exam, an interview, a drug test, and a medical evaluation.

To learn more about the federal hiring process for TSO TSA agents, click here.

Training of a TSA Transportation Security Officers

If you get hired as a TSO officer, you must go through two stages of training with the TSA.

In the first, you will have to go through classroom-based and online training in a variety of professional skills required of a transportation security officer.

You will need to learn how to communicate with passengers, spot threats, handle specialized equipment such as metal detectors and X-ray machines, as well as prioritizing different threats based on the risks posed by them.

The second stage consists of 80 hours of training that is carried out at centralized TSA locations.

There you will receive hands-on training in various skills, such as training with simulated X-ray machines and metal detectors, Identifying dangerous objects, simulating passenger interactions, and other similar hands-on training, as well as classroom lectures.

A grade of 70% in all classes is required to pass the second stage of the TSA Transportation Security Officer.

TSO Officer Salary

TSA Security officers are paid an average of $45,000 per year, with pay increasing as a person progresses in their career, with some senior agents being paid as much as $87,000 per year.

Transportation Security Officer Pay Increase (Pay Equity Plan)

The Federal Budget for the year 2023 is expected to come with an increase in the Transportation Security Administration’s budget, which will include pay increases for most TSA security officers of 30%.

Transportation Security Administration Benefits

Beyond the regular TSA salary pay, every Transportation Security Officer receives a variety of federal government benefits, most importantly, health and life insurance, dental and vision insurance, as well as retirement benefits as part of the Federal Employees Retirement System and Thrift Saving Plans.

You can also enjoy a flexible spending account which allows you to reduce healthcare costs with a Health Care or Limited Expense Health Care FSA saving programs.

Some employees, depending on what areas of the United States they live and work in, are eligible for a transportation subsidy from the TSA to help cover their travel costs.

TSO Officer Jobs and Career Opportunities

The TSA offers entry-level and non-entry-level TSA security officer positions.

A Transportation Security Officer is an entry-level position.

There are three types of non-entry-level jobs:

  • On-the-floor jobs include Lead TSO, Supervisory TSO, and K9 Handler.
  • Security inspection jobs include TSO inspector and Supervisory Security Inspector.
  • Training jobs include Security Training Officer, Training Specialist, and Training Manager.

About Transportation Security Administration

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was formed in response to the 9/11 attacks, with the aim of preventing similar attacks in the future. The main goal is to protect the nation’s transportation systems so that people and commerce can move freely.

Embraced by a professional workforce, the vision of the organization is to build and maintain an effective security agency capable of outmatching the constantly evolving threats and security risks.