How to Become an Airport Security Officer


Before jumping into a career field, it’s good to do some self-evaluation to make sure you’ll be a good fit for your role, and your industry as a whole.


If you’re someone who can follow strict protocols, remain attentive for long periods of time, pass a criminal record check, and you have a genuine interest in security services, then you’ll probably be perfect for a job in this field.


If this sounds like you, and you'd like to learn more about what it take to become an airport security officer, then have a look below; we've put together everything you'll need to get started!



Basic Qualifications

In order to qualify for a job as an airport security officer, you’ll have to meet certain basic requirements, including:


• Must have a high school diploma or GED

• Must be a Resident or citizen of Canada (if working in Canada), or a US National or Citizen (if working in the US)

• Able to pass a background check, including a credit and criminal record check

• Able to pass airport security clearance check

• Able to pass a drug and alcohol screening

• Must be fluent in English

• Be 18 years of age or older

• May require a Security Guard License (many employers will allow you to obtain this after being hired)

• Be willing to enter your employer's training program once hired



Formal Education You Might Need

Most employers will only require that you have a high school diploma. However, pursuing coursework in areas such as criminology or criminal justice can increase your chances of being hired, and can help your chances of advancing your career. 





General Job Description

As an airport security officer, you are on the front lines of protecting an airport, its passengers, personnel, and property, as well as the aircrafts themselves, from various threats.


Depending on where you’re stationed, you may be responsible for patrolling assigned areas of an airport, or you may be responsible using screening equipment to process passengers and non-passengers, and their baggage.


Regardless of your specific task, you are responsible for providing the first line of security for the airport. You must ensure dangerous objects and people don’t make it onto an aircraft. 


Please Note: "Screening Officer" is the specific term used to describe security officers that screen passengers and their baggage.



General Job Duties

• Operate various screening equipment and technology to identify dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and on passengers

• Perform searches and screening, which may include physical interaction with passengers, such as pat-downs

• Conduct bag searches and lifting/carrying bags, bins, and property weighing up to 70 lbs.

• Control terminal entry and exit points

• Interact with the public; give directions and respond to inquiries

• Maintain focus and awareness while working in a stressful environment

• Mitigate actual and potential security threats, by identifying, evaluating, and applying appropriate situational approaches

• Retain and implement knowledge of all applicable standard operating procedures

• Demonstrate responsible and dependable behaviour



Experience You'll Need

Most job postings will state that you need a year of relevant experience in order to work as an airport security officer. Those that don’t, will at least state that experience is considered an asset.


Relevant experience could include working as a security officer, as an aviation screener, or as an x-ray technician. 



Certification, Training and Licenses You’ll Need

If you meet the basic qualifications, and the experience requirement (all listed above) you can go ahead and apply for jobs.


Once hired, you will be put into a training program with your employer; the TSA or one of its security contractors (United States), or one of the contractors for CATSA (Canada). You may also need to obtain a Security Guard license, if you don't already have one.



Who Employs Airport Security Officers?

Canada: In Canada, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) contracts out airport security officer jobs to various organizations, rather than employing them directly.


United States: In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the main employer of airport security guards. However, some airports contract with private employment agencies to fill security positions.



Average Salary Level

The salary level you could earn as an airport security officer can vary, depending on the following factors:


• Your level of experience

• Any certification you have

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties


Airport Security Officer Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Security Guards occupational group earn an average salary of $30,467 per year.


Airport Security Officer Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Transportation Security Screeners occupational group is $38,600 per year.



Career Advancement in This Profession

Displaying competence and a good work ethic can afford you plenty of career advancement options*, including:


• Moving from contractor to TSA employee (USA)

• Earning a higher wage or salary

• Moving into the role of team lead or manager

• Moving into specialized areas, such as teaching security training courses


*Working as an airport security officer is also excellent experience if you want to become a law enforcement professional, such as a border services officer, or a police officer.



Work Environment

Working Hours: You must be able to work shifts that cover all operational hours of the airport, which could involve working weekends, weekdays, late nights, early mornings, and holidays. Full-time, part-time and casual jobs may be available for this occupation.


Work Setting: You would be working at the airport, and may work indoors or outdoors, depending on the duties you are performing. If working outdoors, you could be exposed to all sorts of weather conditions.


Working Conditions: Your work would involve a combination of sitting, standing and walking, and could involve doing one of these for an extended period of time. You would have to work within very strict protocols, and would need to pay close attention to your surroundings. You may also be exposed to stressful situations, such as challenging individuals who are in or approaching an unauthorized area.



Job Opportunities - Open Positions in Your Area

Our job board below has "Airport Security Officer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Alternate Titles for "Airport Security Officer"

The occupation “Airport Security Officer” is a general term used to describe a security services professional that performs a general set of duties. The following is a list of alternate titles that can be used to describe the same job:


• Airport Security Agent

• Airport Security Guard

• Screening Officer

• Transportation Security Officer



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as Airport Security Officer:


Airline Customer Service Agent

• Airport Manager

• Border Services Officer

• Bylaw Enforcement Officer

• Park Warden

• Security Guard




Most of the information for this career guide was retrieved from the websites listed below, with additional information having been compiled from actual job postings from various organizations.


Occupations in Alberta:Security Guard.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 21, 2019.

Occupational Employment Statistics: “Transportation Security Screeners.” (March 29, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 21, 2019.

Job Qualifications: “Qualifications for Airport Security Jobs.” Karen S. Johnson (n.d.). Houston Chronicle website. Retrieved October 21, 2019.




Scholarships for Becoming an Airport Security Officer

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below shows fields of study relevant to a career in airport security. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our Criminology Scholarships and Criminal Justice Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or are necessary) for becoming an airport security officer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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