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Executive Career Paths

TSA has more Executive opportunities than most government agencies, with roles such as Executive Assistant Administrator, Deputy Executive Assistant Administrator, Assistant Administrator, Chief Counsel and more.

TSA offers Executive positions in four main categories: airport, law enforcement, abroad/overseas and headquarters.

Executive Hiring Process and Eligibility

The hiring process for Executive positions is unique, so we’ve provided some topline information below. If you have any questions along the way, you can reach out to human resources or the point of contact listed on each Job Opportunity Announcement (JOA).

When hiring through a competitive vacancy announcement, TSA chooses one of the following selection methods:


The vacancy announcement directs applicants to submit only a resume that shows they possess the executive core qualifications (ECQs) and technical qualifications required.


The vacancy announcement directs applicants to submit a resume and cover letter or other narratives addressing the ECQs and any technical qualifications.

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Executive Resources Council (ERC), under standards established in collaboration with the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, will oversee the Transportation Security Executive Service (TSES) merit staffing process leading to an initial career appointment. The TSES was established under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), Public Law 107-71. The TSA ERC, chaired by the Deputy Administrator, will provide general oversight of the TSES Program. All selections into the TSES are subject to the approval of the ERC.
  • Human Capital (HC) will establish qualifications standards for each position filled and will issue job opportunity announcements (JOA) with a minimum area of competition of “All Qualified Federal Employees.” Veterans’ preference does not apply to the TSES.
  • A JOA must be open for at least 14 calendar days. HC will publish TSES vacancies on the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) employment website, USAJOBSUSAJOBS. HC will assess the professional/technical qualifications of each qualified candidate. The HC Assistant Administrator may delegate the qualifications assessment of TSES applicants to Human Resources professionals or panels.
  • The assessment process utilized must result in differentiation of eligible applicants, based on the qualification standards for the proposed position. Candidates may be grouped into broad categories such as qualified, highly qualified and best qualified. Numerical rating and ranking are not required; however, there must be documentation supporting the basis for each qualifications grouping determination. The Selecting Official has the discretion to decide which, if any, candidates to interview on the Certificate of Eligibles.
  • HC must certify that the selectee was selected from among the best-qualified group of candidates and that the selectee meets the qualification standards for the TSES position. HC must certify the merit staffing process was conducted in accordance with TSA MD 1100.30-24, Transportation Security Executive Service and the accompanying Handbook.
  • HC will prepare a qualifications package and send it to OPM, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for certification by a Qualifications Review Board (QRB). The QRB will review the proposed appointee’s Executive Core Qualifications and certify his or her Executive Core Qualifications based on one of the following criteria:

    1. Demonstrated executive experience in each of the five Executive Core Qualifications

    2. Successful completion of an OPM-approved Candidate Development Program

    3. Possession of special or unique qualities that indicate a likelihood of executive success

  • All career TSES members must serve a one-year probationary period following their initial career appointment. Successful completion of the probationary period confers reinstatement eligibility within TSA and the federal Government. Please refer to TSA MD 1100.30-24, Transportation Security Executive Service and the accompanying Handbook for additional information.

The ECQs were designed to assess executive experience and potential — not technical expertise. They measure whether an individual has the broad executive skills needed to succeed in a variety of SES positions.*

ECQ 1: Leading Change

Bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Implement an organizational vision in a continuously changing environment.

ECQ 2: Leading People

Lead people toward meeting the organization's vision, mission and goals. Create an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

ECQ 3: Results Driven

Meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems and calculating risks.

ECQ 4: Business Acumen

Manage human, financial and information resources strategically.

ECQ 5: Building Coalitions

Build coalitions internally and with other federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.


*The law requires that the executive qualifications of each new career appointee to the Senior Executive Service (SES) be certified by an independent Qualifications Review Board based on criteria established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) describe the leadership skills needed to succeed in the SES.

PTQs are different than ECQs in that they are specific to the mission and technical skills required by the position. PTQs involve elements of practical training that are industry-specific and meant to promote improvement and development of special skills pertinent to definitive career paths.