What Do TSA Workers Get Paid?

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Employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) handle the stressful task of airport security and luggage inspection for air travel hubs across the country. The low annual salaries these workers earn has received much less public scrutiny than the methods these workers must employ to perform inspections and ensure no contraband items make it onto planes flying in the United States.

TSA Worker Pay Scale

The pay scale for TSA workers employs the federal government's SV grading system for pay classes as opposed to the majority of positions in the federal government, including the FBI and the Secret Service, that use the GS pay grade system. The SV system uses lettered tiers A through M, with a minimum and maximum annual salary for each tier. The pay scale for each tier does not include bonuses or incentive pay, including locality pay and the cost of federal health benefits.

Minimum TSA Salary

At time of publication, the minimum salary for a TSA worker is $17,083 annually at the lowest SV pay band, according to the Transportation Security Administration's website. The maximum pay for this SV pay grade is $24,977 at time of publication. According to National Public Radio's website, this lowest pay grade makes bottom-rung TSA workers among the lowest paid of all federal government employees working in any capacity across the country. As of 2010, TSA workers have no labor union representation like other employee groups working for branches of the federal government.

Locality Pay Grades

As workers of the federal government, employees of TSA may receive locality pay depending on each employee's assigned location. Locality pay is an addition to each federal government employee's base salary to account for changes in cost of living where the employees must live to easily reach the working destination. Locality pay can vary by each employee's pay grade and working location, ranging from 16 percent of total pay at lower levels and as much as 35 percent of total pay in locations where the cost of living is much higher.

Maximum TSA Pay Grades

Annual salary for TSA workers can become lucrative at higher pay grades. According to the Transportation Security Administration's website, at time of publication the minimum annual salary for the highest pay grade -- SV grade M -- is $120,236. The maximum salary for this pay grade sits at $155,500. The federal government caps locality pay at this level to prevent a windfall of money for higher-ranking government officials, only allowing a maximum salary of $172,550 including locality pay through the 2012 working year.