TSA expands career opportunities for Transportation Security Officers

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National Press Release
Monday, July 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today introduced a Career Progression Program for its frontline workforce of 43,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). Included are merit-based promotions for experienced TSOs and specialized technical career tracks, which include functions such as Behavior Detection Officers and Bomb Appraisal Officers.

"Since its inception, TSA has recognized that our most valuable asset is our people, and to stay ahead of emerging threats, we must cultivate ways to strengthen our skilled, knowledgeable, ready and willing workforce," said TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley. "Offering our high-performing TSOs a better career path will not only improve employee retention but enhance security for the traveling public."

Currently, the TSO career path progresses on a management track to Lead TSO and Supervisory TSO, which jumps from the starting D Band to the F and G Bands. Under the new Career Progression Program, TSOs with two years' experience and favorable performance reviews are eligible for a higher pay grade, the newly established full performance E Band. The E Band also will recognize the new, specialized position of TSO Equipment Technician, which rewards the skills of employees responsible for the maintenance of security equipment. Internal studies conducted over the past three years have concluded that TSO performance improves with experience, underlining the need to retain employees for security reasons.

The new path also creates a technical track of Master TSO and Expert TSO, recognizing TSOs whose experience and knowledge enable them to independently complete work and perform specialized functions. Master and Expert TSOs will be in the F and G Bands, respectively, further expanding the advancement potential of TSOs not on the management track. Master or Expert TSOs have the opportunity to serve as:

  • Behavior Detection Officers who execute TSA's Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT) program, identifying potentially high-risk individuals based on involuntary physical and psychological reactions.  TSA anticipates expanding the original SPOT pilot program by training more than 500 Behavior Detection Officers by the end of fiscal year 2008.
  • Bomb Appraisal Officers who provide the workforce with ongoing training regarding improvised explosive devices as well as serve as on-site experts to resolve alarms that can disrupt airport operations. TSA expects to hire approximately 300 Bomb Appraisal Officers by the end of fiscal year 2008.
  • TSA-Approved Instructors who provide basic and recurrent training in passenger and baggage screening and equal employment opportunity training, and may also provide on-the-job, refresher, cross-over and other advanced training.

The Career Progression Program is supported by TSO and Assistant Federal Security Director-Screening Advisory Councils, making a "strong business case of improved performance, retention and recruiting success," said Hawley.