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What does an Airport Security Officer do?

By Mandi Rogier
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An airport security officer, also referred to as a transportation security officer, is responsible for the meticulous passenger screening that is required to board an airline. These officers are present at several checkpoints throughout the boarding process to ensure that no dangerous passengers or prohibited items are allowed on the plane. If a dangerous situation should occur, they will be the first to catch and deal with the issue.

Passenger baggage is one of the top priorities of airport security officers. Baggage must be checked whether it is being taken as a carry on, or checked into the cargo area of the plane. X-ray devices are often used to view the contents of passengers’ bags and officers must be trained to detect dangerous and prohibited items. Physical bag inspections are also performed at various points throughout the airport.

Passengers themselves are usually screened as well. Metal detectors are used to determine whether passengers are carrying dangerous items. Some security officers work with trained dogs to detect drugs and explosives.

One of the most important qualities of an airport security officer is constant attention to detail. These officers should be alert and at the ready at all times. The safety of the airline passengers traveling through their airport rests in the hands of these officers. Any suspicious activity must be detected and investigated.

When a dangerous situation does occur, however, the airport security officer does not have the authority to arrest the individual in question. Law enforcement officers work very closely with airport security personnel. When an arrest is required, the issue is the responsibility of proper local authorities.

A degree is not required for a job as an airport security officer. Experience in security, law enforcement, or aviation is seen as a plus. The ability to learn how to operate the X-ray machines and hand wands is required, as is a professional manner when dealing with the public and communicating with people of many different nationalities and backgrounds.

Airport security officers are provided to the airport through a variety of services. Some airports use an outside security company for the hiring and training of their security staff. In other locations, the local government is responsible for employing these individuals. The hiring procedure can vary from location to location, and individuals interested in this type of career should contact the airport that they wish to work at for more information.

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Discussion Comments

By anon323698 — On Mar 06, 2013

Every Federal approved padlock on my luggage was stolen. Every one! The have a key and always steal them. I have to purchase more for every weekly trip. $10 + X 3 = $30 per week I have to pay because the Officers think it is all right to keep all the locks they take off.

By anon318046 — On Feb 05, 2013

I agree with both of you. Even I am innocent, because they don't smile, I feel like I am doing something dodgy. The way they look at you and they treat you is like you already committed a crime.

By anon109811 — On Sep 09, 2010

I don't have a lot of confidence in the selection of the personnel used for this job. My partner's ex went from working in a cafe to working at an airport in this role in security after very few training sessions and she isn't the brightest spark in the fuse box, either.

By anon92587 — On Jun 29, 2010

Screening Officers need to smile more when they are dealing with and screening passengers! It just seems like they dislike their jobs.

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