Transportation Security Officer
Transportation Security Officers conduct security screening of passengers, baggage and cargo at airports to prevent any deadly or dangerous objects from being transported onto an aircraft.
Transportation Security Officers are responsible for:
independent handling of screening functions;
operating basic security equipment such as X-ray machines and advanced imaging technology at screening checkpoints;
working with persons of diverse backgrounds; and
communicating non-technical information effectively to others.
TSO CBT Test
The first step in the hiring process towards becoming a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) with the TSA is for applicants to pass the TSA CBT (Computer Based Test.) The test consists of two major components:
X-Ray Object Recognition
Since most people have not had any experience with interpreting X-rays of luggage or cargo, this part of the TSA entrance exam is probably the most difficult. The test gives a preliminary measure of how well an applicant can distinguish between shapes and colors in a noisy environment, like an X-ray image.
The test is made more challenging by the fact that each image is shown for only a few seconds before the PASS/FAIL answer must be entered. There are approximately 5 sets of images representing different objects, like guns, bottles, tools, etc. Each set will have approximately 20 images to analyze.
Applicants for the position of TSO should prepare with a good prep course that simulates the actual conditions and images that will be used during the exam.
English Proficiency Assessment
The TSA entrance exam also includes multiple choice questions on basic English proficiency skills. This includes spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, grammar and reading comprehension. Since most applicants are rusty at taking this type of test, once again, getting yourself prepared with a TSA prep course that includes basic English refresher is critical towards moving forward.
Additional steps in the hiring process include the Background Investigation and the Airport Assessment (Interview.) These steps are described in more detail here.