What Makes a Great TSO?
TSOs spend a lot of time interfacing with the public and providing customer service.
Dependable and Adaptable
TSOs have to protect the traveling public and respond quickly to dynamic threats.
Observant and Detail-Oriented
TSOs must be on high alert at all times.
TSOs are responsible for learning and staying up to date on standard operating procedures.
Early Bird or a Night Owl
TSOs often work early morning or late-night shifts. As operational needs fluctuate, it’s critical to be flexible.
Focused and Calm
TSOs must keep their cool when handling difficult passengers or responding to threats.
Good Physical Shape
TSOs must be able to lift heavy baggage, stand and walk for prolonged periods of time without a break.
Comfortable In Close Spaces With Others
TSOs must conduct pat-downs on passengers and sift through passenger items in bags.
The Realistic Job Preview provides an objective, vivid portrait of working as a TSO and employee testimonies about both the positive and the challenging aspects of the position.
TSO Realistic Job Preview
Learn about the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) position and what it is like to work on the front line protecting our nation's transportation systems.
TSOs are responsible for providing security and protection of travelers across all transportation sectors in a courteous and professional manner. Their duties may also extend to securing high-profile events, important figures and/or anything that includes or impacts our transportation systems.
- Operating various screening equipment and technology to identify dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and/or on passengers, and preventing those objects from being transported onto aircraft
- Performing searches and screening, which may include physical interaction with passengers (e.g., pat downs, property searches) conducting bag searches and lifting/carrying bags, bins and property weighing up to 50lbs.
- Controlling terminal entry and exit points
- Interacting with the public, giving directions and responding to inquiries
- Retaining and implementing knowledge of all applicable Standard Operating Procedures
TSOs are eventually required to complete an immersive training program at the TSA Academy. Located in the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA, the program is a total of 80 compensable hours. TSA covers all travel expenses and lodging, as students must reside on-center or in FLETC-provided housing for the entirety of the program. While the TSA Academy provides the foundation for success, employees continue to receive training throughout their TSA career.
Security Career Path
- Training Instructor
- Canine Handler
Other Career Paths
- Law Enforcement – Federal Air Marshal
- Mission Support – Program Analyst
- HR Specialist
- Contracts Specialist
- And More
TSA accepts candidates of all different backgrounds and experience levels. Our basic requirements include:
- U.S. citizen or national
- 18 years of age or older
- High school diploma, GED or equivalent certificate
- Registered for Selective Service ( learn morelearn more )
- Able to pass a federal drug screening, medical evaluation and background investigation
- Available to work shifts at odd hours, occasional overtime and the ability to travel for training
TSO Hiring Process
The TSO hiring process takes about to 90 days on average. Review the process below to get a better idea of what to expect, and ensure you’re prepared every step of the way.
- Use the above search bar to browse open TSO positions or search on USAJOBS
- Applicants can search by series, keyword, JOA number, department or location
- Sort results by open or close date, location or department
For example: To look for an open TSO role near you, type "TSO" into the search field and enter your location. Click on a job title to view the full description, and if it seems like the right fit, apply from there.
- You must create a profile on USAJOBS to apply for employment with the federal government.
- USAJOBS will direct you to login.gov (a secure federal portal) where you will be able to follow the steps to create an account. You’ll need to reply to a verification email to sign in, and subsequently when you access the site you’ll be sent a one-time security code by text or phone call.
For TSO positions, a resume is not required. To avoid submitting a resume, follow these steps:
Step 1: On the Select Resume page, choose Build Resume.
Step 2: The Resume Builder will appear. In the Resume Name Field, enter placeholder text such as "TSO application" or "Blank," then click Next.
Step 3: Under Add Work Experience, select the check box next to "I do not wish to provide work experience" and click Next. Do the same for "I do not wish to provide education." Then select the check box next to "References available upon request" and click Finish.
Step 4: Once on the Review Package screen, click the check box next to "I acknowledge that I have reviewed my resume and document(s)." Then click Save and Continue.
Step 5: Proceed through the remainder of the application
When applying on USAJOBS, be sure to complete the following:
- Contact information
- Demographic details and personal information
- Eligibility questionnaire
- Pay special attention to questions 15-18 which are directly relevant to the TSO role
- On question 18, note that TSA policy requires verification of Selective Service registration for male applicants born after 12/31/1959
- All questions from 19-54 pertain to felonies committed in the last 10 years
- Review your information before submitting.
- Be sure to upload any additional documents that may be required.
- Veterans receive special consideration during the hiring process so be sure that you have uploaded your DD-214 to prove your eligibility
- If you meet the minimum qualifications, you may be invited to take a CBT to confirm proficiency in English and critical competencies for TSOs and to evaluate x-ray interpretation aptitude. Upon passing the CBT, you will move on to additional assessments.
- This involves a structured interview and fingerprinting. A structured interview is an assessment method designed to measure job-related competencies by systematically inquiring about behavior in past experiences and/or proposed behavior in hypothetical situations
- Structured interviews ensure candidates have equal opportunities to provide information. Interviewers use standardized rating scales to assess candidates accurately and consistently.
- The medical evaluation includes a color vision test, vision and hearing exam, and adequate joint mobility exam (determines the physical potential to repeatedly lift and/or carry up to 50lbs., stand for 3-4 hours and walk up to three miles during a shift)
- During the federal drug test, your urine sample cannot test positive for illegal drugs, including marijuana — read more about the medical requirements herehere
- After completing all required steps, TSO candidates enter the “ready pool” and are eligible to receive a job offer commensurate with an airport’s hiring needs
- Your ready pool status stays active for one year after submission
- If you are a veteran or an individual with a disability, you may follow a different qualification process — visit the Veterans page or Individuals with Disabilities page for more information