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The Average TSA Screener Salary

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Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are in charge of ensuring passenger safety by inspecting and scanning travelers and their belongings before they travel. Their job carries great responsibility and that be both stressful and tiring. Despite the importance of their job, TSA screeners tend to be the lowest paid of all federal workers. TSA workers also have some of the highest injury rates and up until a few years ago there was heavy job turnover.

TSA Screener Salaries

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TSA screeners with less than one year of experience may make between $12.11 and $14.90 per hour. The rate may increase by variables such as airport location and airport size. The yearly salary for someone with less than one year is around $29,808. For a more experienced worker, with one to four years of experience, the annual salary is between $30,252 and $38,660. Long time employees and those with more experience or at an officer level can make up to $40,314. New applicants with TSA are often required to work part-time for two years or more before being offered a full time position. Part-time positions with the TSA pay about $14 per hour.

Work Environment

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Although TSA is a security organization, it is also a customer service agency and a large part of its duties include working with the public. The average work day for a screener involves long hours of standing and in some cases staring at an X-ray machine or directing travelers through the screening lines. Many screeners must lift heavy luggage as they screen selected or suspicious looking baggage. This is the cause of many of the reported injuries. Recent changes in airport security have led to increases in pat-downs and body scanning. Many passengers object to what they perceive is an invasion of their privacy and become belligerent towards the screeners. This has caused an increase in job stress for the screeners.


In an effort to combat the low pay and sometimes unpleasant work environment, some TSA officers are looking to unionize. Currently there are approximately 43,000 TSA employees that may benefit from the collective bargaining rights that come from unionization. Because the TSA is a federal agency the bargaining would occur through lobbying Congress for increases in pay and benefits. Union representatives are hoping that their efforts will pay off with a better system to determine pay increases and by reducing the dependence on part time workers.

Job Outlook

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The most popular areas for those looking for TSA screener positions are San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte and New York. These airports are major hubs with a large amount of daily travelers. Screeners looking for advancement in the TSA can become Security Supervisors, Operations Supervisors, Transportation Inspectors and Computer Operations Specialists. After the events of September 11, the TSA increased the number of screeners and there has not been a decline in hiring. Recent backlash over pat downs have resulted in a few airports expressing a desire to replace TSA screeners with private firms.


Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.

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