How to Become a TSA Screener

How to become a TSA ScreenerA TSA Screener, also known as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO), screens baggage and passengers at airports to prevent people from bringing dangerous objects onto airplanes. Screeners work for the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. They perform a critical job that helps keep our skies safe.

Screeners work not only at passenger checkpoints, but also behind the scenes, where they screen checked baggage and cargo. They work as a team. Many TSA Screeners express satisfaction with their jobs because they feel good about helping the public. Being a Screener is also an outstanding entry-level job for those who want to grow in their careers, and it offers excellent federal benefits.

Qualifications to apply for a TSA Screener job
$24,380
High School or GED
None

1,090,600
18%
200,200
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

At the time that you apply for a Screener position, you need to meet all of the following qualifications:

  • You must be at least 18 years old,
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national.
  • You must be able to read, write, speak and listen in English.
  • You must have either a high school diploma, a GED, or at least one year of full-time experience working in certain related jobs.

Abilities you need in order to be a TSA Screener

In addition to the specific requirements listed above, you should also have certain skills and abilities. These include the following:

  • The ability to work with the public and to work with a diverse group of people
  • The ability to operate x-ray machines, hand wands and other machinery
  • The ability to communicate effectively
  • The ability to concentrate on your job when you are working in a busy environment filled with distractions
  • The ability to work on holidays (for which you’ll receive extra pay) and to work different shifts, as needed
  • The ability to work as part of a team

Getting ready to apply to be a TSA Screener

  • If you have not graduated from high school, and you haven’t worked in security or as an x-ray tech, you should get your high school diploma or a GED.
  • If you are not proficient in English, you should take classes that will improve your reading, writing and speaking skills enough to pass the TSA exam.

The application process for becoming a TSA Screener

The Department of Homeland Security wants to make sure that only the best people become TSA Screeners. For this reason, the application process is very thorough and takes place in several steps.

  1. Look for openings on the USAJOBS.gov site. Type “Transportation Security Officer” in the site’s search box to find the current openings.
  2. Take a 2.5-hour computer-based test, which evaluates your English proficiency and your ability to spot objects in x-rays. If you pass the test, you can continue to the next step.
  3. Pass a credit and criminal background check. In order to pass, you cannot have been convicted of certain crimes or be delinquent in child support payments, taxes, or certain debts.
  4. Complete and pass a 2-hour airport assessment, which includes a job interview and completing additional forms.
  5. Complete a medical examination.
  6. If you successfully completed all the above steps, you will be placed in the “ready pool” for the airports where you applied. You will receive a job offer when a position becomes available.

Getting started as a new TSA Screener

When you first start working as a Screener, you get on-the-job training to learn how to perform your new role. You will be paired with an experienced Screener, and you will stay with them as they do the various parts of the job. You will learn by watching what they do.

Being a Screener is a job that opens the door to many opportunities for advancement.

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