Transportation Security Officers (TSO’s) are employed by the Transportation Security Administration, and make up the bulk of the TSA workforce. Their job duties include inspecting passengers and goods that are being transported by ship, bus, rail, or air. “They are charged with protecting the US transportation systems from terrorist attacks and ensuring freedom of movement for both commerce and people”. They are to follow the guidelines set by the TSA.
Training and Requirements
To become a TSO, you must have a high school diploma, GED, or prior security experience. Weekend, holiday and evening work is required. Qualified candidates must be honest and flexible with work schedules, accountable, have great communication skills, and work well with a team. You must be able to pass a background check and drug screen and are required to be fingerprinted and photographed.
Upon hire, TSO’s must complete 56-72 hours of classroom training, 112-118 hours of on the job training, a certification test, and may be required to travel up to two weeks. To maintain employment, TSO’s must have no impairments from alcohol, drugs or sleep deprivation.
This position is very physically demanding. Those with poor vision, who are color blind or have impaired hearing are not suited for this line of work. TSO’s must be able to lift and carry up to 70 pounds. There are also physical requirements with set limits on blood pressure, dexterity, joint mobility, strength, and stability.
TSO’s are trained to screen passengers at security checkpoints by checking luggage manually or with X-Ray equipment. They usually don’t work in the same position every day. Therefore, they must know how to check tickets and ID materials of crews and passengers. They are also responsible for pat downs, working the metal detectors, visual observation, and explosive trace detection. Along with these, they are still required to focus on customer service and assisting passengers who have special needs or questions.
Issues Facing TSO’s
One requirement of TSO’s is to conduct visual observations on passengers and be aware of any suspicious activity. Even though they are trained on what behavior to look for, this has come under scrutiny in the last few years because it can be a form of profiling. TSO’s do not carry firearms and are not allowed to arrest people. They are required to report suspicious activity to law enforcement and management. They also have very little protection in the line of duty as they do not wear bulletproof vests. While this isn’t an issue most of the time, wearing these vests could help save a life of a TSO in the case of a shooting incident.
Due to the strict requirements of being a TSO, it is very common for a TSO to find themselves in a position where they can’t fully complete their job duties. In this case, that person may qualify for federal disability retirement. If this describes you or someone you know, don’t hesitate to call us at 877-226-2723 or fill out this inquiry form. We want to be able to help you.