Since 9/11, airport security positions are more vital than ever. Airport security officers operate baggage and passenger screening systems and work with law enforcement to identify and apprehend questionable individuals. They provide security and protection for passengers and airline employees.
Some airport security professionals work for the federal government while others are employed by private industry. Job duties vary based on the size and location of the airport. Private airports have different needs than busy airports in major cities.
The educational requirements for airport security differ based on the employment situation. Earning a degree could provide the greatest opportunity for success in finding a job in this field. An associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, security or law enforcement, along with specified training in airport security may open doors in both the private and public sector.
Airport security officers perform a number of jobs. They search and inspect baggage by hand as well as by operating X-ray and other equipment to determine whether illegal materials are being transported. These security specialists also screen passengers and airport staff in a variety of ways to avoid allowing criminals or other dangerous individuals to board airplanes. In the event of an emergency, airport security officers oversee the protection and evacuation of the public.
Some airport security officers work with specially trained canines to detect drugs and other dangerous materials. Airport security officers may also inspect vehicles and determine the authenticity of the identification of employees and vendors, particularly those seeking entrance to restricted areas of the airport.
These professionals are often the first security personnel on the scene when a crisis occurs and they work cooperatively with law enforcement.
An airport security officer usually performs the following tasks:
Airport security officers need to be detail oriented and able to ascertain people’s characters and intentions. They are most effective when they communicate well. While not technically law enforcement, these professionals lay the groundwork for other officers to step in and do their job successfully.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that this profession is expected to grow faster than average through 2018, with an increased need and desire for national security in airports. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an airport security officer’s salary ranges from $25,000-69,000, depending on region, employer and years of experience. The average salary for this profession is around $47,000 annually.