TSA Jobs: Everything You Need To Know about Salary, Benefits and Requirements

Last updated: September 3, 2018
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Thinking about applied for a job with the TSA?  It turns out, the TSA is looking for new agents, officers and support personnel. They’re currently hiring for hundreds of officer positions at airports across the country, with 800 open TSA jobs ranging from a security agent, to manager, to security director. All of them offer good pay, steady promotion opportunities, and the chance to show travelers that the TSA is friendly and just wants to help keep them safe. Most of them are likely in Atlanta, which fielded one-seventh of the total fliers last year.

While airlines have seen a rise in the number of passengers, airports have seen a decline in the number of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees. CNN Money reports that, compared to 2013, the TSA has 4,500 fewer officers attempting to accommodate 100 million more travelers this year. This means the time has never been better to start a career with the Transportation Security Administration.

How much does a tsa Agent earn? What IS the Pay Scale?

The TSA salary, which is the first thing that everyone wonders about when it comes to a new job, starts off rather modestly, but if you stick around long enough there’s huge potential for growth. The just-hired student will earn at least $20,000 per year in salary, but depending on which area you are going into, you could earn anywhere from $22,000-$34,000 as your minimum Level 1 salary, potentially more if you are working in a specialty area such as engineering or an attorney. If you stick around a while and move up the ranks, you could very easily earn between $50,000 and $75,000 per year as a TSA security agent.

TSA Pay Bands Explained

Although the TSA is a Federal agency, it does not use the General Scale (GS) like most other arms of the Federal Government. The TSA uses a graded ‘Pay Band’ system. The full chart is pretty confusing, so here are the pay bands and base salary ranges for some of the most common jobs.

TSA Pay Band Salary Range By Job

TSA Job Minimum Starting Salary Maximum Salary Pay Band Range
TSA Security Officer (Agent) $22,613.00 $92,540.00 C – I
TSA Security Manager $40,150.00 $92,540.00 G – I
TSA Clerical Support $22,613.00 $44,891.00 C – E
TSA Administrative Support $26,031.00 $51,509.00 D – F
TSA Technical Support $29,891.00 $62,208.00 E – G
TSA Professional $34,303.00 $158,700.00 F – L (L is expert)
TSA Engineering $40,150.00 $158,700.00 G – L (L is expert)
TSA Specialized Tech Positions $34,303.00 $112,835.00 F – J
TSA Attorney $40,150.00 $158,700.00 F – M (L & M,are expert)
TSA Medical Officer $40,150.00 $158,700.00 F – M (L & M,are expert)

Full TSA Pay Band Ranges

Pay Band Minimum Maximum
A $17,427 $25,479
B $19,964 $29,119
C $22,613 $33,972
D $26,031 $39,047
E $29,891 $44,891
F $34,303 $51,509
G $40,150 $62,208
H $48,972 $75,885
I $59,671 $92,540
J $72,799 $112,835
K $87,026 $134,895
L $104,012 $158,700
M $121,438 $158,700

*This table does not include locality pay

Another thing that would really help you move up the TSA pay scale is working in an airport that is a major airline hub or otherwise serves a lot of travelers. This would also help job-seekers attain a position. Larger airports mean more travelers, which means the necessity for a bigger TSA presence. Plus, working in major airports can provide a little bump in pay. Take, for example, working in the San Diego airport. Locality payment and a general schedule increase means that you would earn a Level 2 salary in a Level 1 position. This is true for many of the other major airports in the country, and even though the pay bump only hovers between one and two percent, every little bit helps.

TSA Career Benefits

TSA employees also enjoy the rich benefits of working for a Federal agency.  The agency recognizes 10 paid Federal holidays, tuition reimbursement (excelled for those saddled with student loan debt or looking to complete school while working), paid training, and transportation subsidies.

Medical Benefits:  The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program  offers TSA employees the widest selection of health plans in the country.

Dental and Vision Benefits:  The Federal Employees Dental/Vision (FEDVIP) Program  offers competitive premiums (withheld on a pre-tax basis) and no pre-existing condition limitations. TSA dental insurance is on an employee pay all basis.

Life Insurance:  The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) provides term life insurance, which consists of Basic life insurance coverage and three additional options. In most cases, new TSA employees are automatically covered by Basic life insurance.

what are the requirements of working for the tsa?

The number one thing here appears to be flexibility. They require all employees to work one weekend day per week, and because airports are open for business 24 hours per day, you may very well need to work a few night shifts. On top of this, if you live in an area such as Dallas, Los Angeles or Chicago, you may very well have to work at multiple airports. Other than that there are physical, psychological and a few more requirements for being a TSA agent:

  • US citizens or US nationals
  • At least 18 years old at the time of application
  • Proficient in English and have customer service skills
  • Dependable and able to operate with integrity
  • Able to repeatedly lift and/or carry up to 70 pounds
  • Able to maintain focus and awareness in a stressful environment
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree in criminal justice to improve odds of hiring
  • Meet job-related medical standards, including passing a background investigation and drug screening
  • Successfully pass an image interpretation test
  • Computer Based Test: Tests English language proficiency and x-ray interpretation aptitude
  • A structured interview that assesses an individual’s decision-making abilities and the ability to work with teams and public

So basically as long as you’re a citizen, are in decent shape and can see, you’re good to go for being a TSA agent. The TSA is also well aware that it doesn’t have the best reputation, but it is rapidly trying to change that with their social media interaction and updating a blog that lets passengers peek into the window of daily life as a TSA agent. So an increased importance is placed on customer service. As anyone who has flown knows, delayed and cancelled flights can sometimes translate to hostile travelers, and that anger is usually directed at airline personnel. Having the ability to de-escalate situations and keep a cool head is paramount, even when things get really heated.

After completion (and hopefully successful completion) of all pre-employment assessments, individuals are then categorized in one of the following categories:

  • Best qualified: Demonstrates a superior level in all evaluation criteria
  • Highly qualified: Demonstrates a satisfactory level in all evaluation criteria
  • Qualified: Demonstrates minimal or basic satisfactory qualifications

TSA Pre Employment Training

The TSA Online Learning Center (OLC) is supports and manages the delivery and completion of all TSA training programs. Within the OLC is the TSA Screener Training Program, which includes study in x-ray operation, screening of persons, searching accessible property, searching checked baggage, and operating machines that test for explosives. The TSA mandates that all new employees complete more than 120 hours of classroom and on-the-job training and pass a series of tests before they receive their work assignment.

Existing TSA employees are required to complete an annual re-certification process that includes x-ray image interpretation tests, written exams, and a evaluation by a third party observer.

How To Apply for  Job With the TSA

Applying for a job with the TSA is an easy three step process.

Step 1: Navigate to USA Jobs  (our link here has the TSA keyword pre filled for you)

Step 2: Perform a search within the USA Jobs site.  You can be as detailed or general as you like, searching for specific locations and specific positions.  For a more detailed or advanced search, click here to head Advanced and International Search page.
Federal occupations are grouped into series numbers that are for identification. This feature allows you to search by that code.

TSA jobs are grouped into series that you can search through and select a single occupation by simple clicking on one.  You may hold down the CTRL key (the Command key for Macs) to select multiple jobs.

Select your desired location(s) by clicking inside the Location Search box, scrolling to see selections, and clicking on your choices. For multiple selections, hold down the CTRL key (the Command key for Macs) while clicking selections.

To complete the search, click SEARCH JOBS at the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Click on the detailed information for each job to see if it is right for you and apply!  It’s that easy.

why Pursue a Career With the tsa?

Disgruntled passengers, long hours on your feet and Congressional Oversight Committee hearings; there are contrasts to the pros of working for the TSA, as there are with any job. However, if you are looking for work, you can help be someone who changes the perception of the TSA from within. They need more man-power to help combat the long lines at the airport, and to provide friendly faces to travelers. They were given government clearance to hire 768 new officers this year due to the long lines, and you don’t have to have any prior security experience to apply.

*Featured image by Molivolo, via Wiki Commons



  1. Just wondering if a airport has listed 3 xs job announcements on USA jobs in the past 5 months or so..Are they probably hiring oR trying to build up their READY POOL. I find this frustrating as I am in the READY POOL but they have listed on USA jobs 2xs since I applied. Whats the hold up?

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