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Transportation Security Officer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Transportation Security Screeners Career Video



Conducts screening of passengers, baggage, or cargo to ensure compliance with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations. May operate basic security equipment such as x-ray machines and hand wands at screening checkpoints.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Security and Protective Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Inspects carry-on items, using x-ray viewing equipment, to determine whether items contain objects that warrant further investigation.
  • Searches carry-on or checked baggage by hand when it is suspected to contain prohibited items such as weapons.
  • Checks passengers' tickets to ensure that they are valid, and to determine whether passengers have designations that require special handling, such as providing photo identification.
  • Tests baggage for any explosive materials, using equipment such as explosive detection machines or chemical swab systems.
  • Performs pat-down or hand-held wand searches of passengers who have triggered machine alarms, who are unable to pass through metal detectors, or who have been randomly identified for such searches.
  • Notifies supervisors or other appropriate personnel when security breaches occur.
  • Sends checked baggage through automated screening machines, and sets bags aside for searching or rescreening as indicated by equipment.
  • Decides whether baggage that triggers alarms should be searched or should be allowed to pass through.
  • Follows those who breach security until police or other security personnel arrive to apprehend them.
  • Informs other screeners when baggage should not be opened because it might contain explosives.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Exposed to radiation more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Baggage Screener -- Oversees and manages processing of passengers and personal baggage through metal detection and X-ray equipment.