Airport security officer

An airport security officer


Airport security officers interact with passengers to ensure smooth transition between areas of the airport, compliant with safety regulations. They perform searches of passengers, their ID and baggage in order to ensure safety and to prevent illegal activity.

The duties of an airport security officer include, but are not limited to:

  • Patrolling an airport terminal or aircraft to detect security breaches or safety hazards
  • Inspecting cargo to ensure that packages are properly labeled and sealed
  • Conducting physical screenings of passengers using metal detectors, hand held scanners and explosive detection devices
  • Responding to emergencies such as fires or medical emergencies
  • Performing bag checks and screening passengers for weapons, explosives, or other items that could be used to hijack a plane or perpetrate other acts of violence
  • Coordinating with other security personnel and law enforcement officers during investigations of security breaches or other crimes
  • Monitoring surveillance cameras to identify potential threats or criminal activity
  • Inspecting identification cards and boarding passes to verify that passengers have valid entry documents for the location they are traveling to or from
  • Inspecting vehicles for explosives or other dangerous materials at checkpoints near airport grounds

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to airport security officer:

TSA agent, air marshall
airport security professional
airport security guard
airport security agent

Working conditions

Airport security officers typically work in a fast-paced environment with long hours. They may be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. They may also be required to work overtime, on short notice, and in shifts. The work can be physically demanding, and officers may be required to stand for long periods of time. The job can be stressful, and officers must be able to handle the stress of the job and the potential for danger. They must also be able to work in a team environment and to follow instructions.

Minimum qualifications

Most airport security officers have at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed some college courses. Taking courses in criminal justice, law enforcement, security or related fields can help you prepare for a career in airport security.

Most airport security officers receive on-the-job training after they are hired. This training is usually part of the orientation process and may last a few weeks. During this training, they learn about the airport’s security procedures and protocols. They also learn about the various equipment and technology you will use as an airport security officer.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Airport security officer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Airport security officer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to airport security officer.

street warden
prison officer
juvenile correctional officer
gate guard
police officer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of airport security officer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of airport security officer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

immigration officer
court bailiff
police inspector
hand luggage inspector
police detective

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of airport security officer.

  • Illegal substances: The forbidden substances which cannot be transported from one area to another, or carried by an individual, as well as their nature and how to handle them.
  • Airport safety regulations: Know airport safety regulations and instructions.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of airport security officer.

  • Conduct frisk: Conduct frisks, or pat downs, with individual to ensure there are no illegal or dangerous items concealed on their person, in a manner appropriate and compliant with regulations.
  • Perform body searches: Examine visitors by performing a body search, in order to detect weapons or illegal substances.
  • Use x-ray machines: Handle X-ray machines in order to screen suitcases or boxes.
  • Ensure compliance with airport security measures: Ensure compliance with airport security measures prior to the boarding of planes.
  • Conduct airport safety inspections: Conduct airport inspections to achieve maximum safety; inspect airport facilities, ensure equipment is used and maintained appropriately, and ensure staff members work in the safest possible way.
  • Report airport security incidents: Compose comprehensive reports on airport security incidents, such as the detaining of unruly travellers, confiscation of luggage items, or damaging of airport property.
  • Respond to enquiries: Respond to enquiries and requests for information from other organisations and members of the public.
  • Identify airport safety hazards: Spot threats related to security at the airport and apply procedures to counteract them in a quick, safe, and efficient way.
  • Check official documents: Check an individuals’ official documentation, such as driver’s licenses and identification, to ensure compliance with legal regulations, and to identify and assess individuals.
  • Identify security threats: Identify security threats during investigations, inspections, or patrols, and perform the necessary actions to minimise or neutralise the threat.
  • Apply airport standards and regulations: Know and apply the accepted standards and regulations for European airports. Apply knowledge to enforce airport rules, regulations, and the Airport Safety Plan.
  • Perform security checks: Monitor and check individuals’ bags or personal items in order to make sure the individuals present no threats and that their behaviour is legally compliant.
  • Conduct airport security screening: Monitor passenger flow through the screening checkpoint and facilitate the orderly and efficient processing of passengers; inspect luggage and cargo following screening procedures.
  • Check travel documentation: Control tickets and travel documents, allocate seats and note food preferences of people on tour.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of airport security officer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Legal use-of-force: The characteristics of the use-of-force, which is a legal doctrine employed by police and army forces, to regulate acts of violence during interventions. Use-of-force is ought to balance security needs with ethical concerns for the rights and well-being of intruders or suspects.
  • Investigation research methods: The methods and strategies used to conduct police, government intelligence or military investigation research, as well as the research regulations specific to the operation.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of airport security officer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Manage technical security systems: Verify the operation of technical security systems such as cameras, badge readers or X-ray machines.
  • Inspect cargo: Conduct quality checks on cargo before loading and after unloading commences. Ensure total on-board cargo load is secure.
  • Check implementation security plan: Supervise the realisation of the aviation safety instructions.
  • Update procedure instructions: Keep the procedural instructions of the airport up-to-date.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
  • Identify terrorism threats: Identify the possibility of terrorism activities posing threats and danger in a specific area by monitoring activities of potentially dangerous groups of people, assessing risks in different areas, and gathering intelligence.
  • Conduct research interview: Use professional researching and interviewing methods and techniques to gather relevant data, facts or information, to gain new insights and to fully comprehend the message of the interviewee.
  • Handle conflicts: Mediate in conflicts and tense situations by acting between parties, such as service users, important others like families, and institutions, striving to effect an agreement, reconciliate, and resolve problems.
  • Apply knowledge of human behaviour: Practice principles related to group behaviour, trends in society, and influence of societal dynamics.
  • Schedule shifts: Plan staff time and shifts to reflect the demands of the business.
  • Follow given instructions: Follow instructions to achieve goals and meet deadlines.
  • Write situation reports: Write reports according to specifications and regulations of an organisation on the situation which needs to be reported on, such as the status of an investigation, of intelligence gathering, or of missions and operations.
  • Ensure compliance with policies: Ensure compliance with legislation and company procedures in respect of health and safety in the workplace and public areas. Ensure awareness and compliance with all company policies in relation to health and safety and equal opportunities in the workplace.
  • Detain offenders: Keep back offenders and trespassers in a certain area.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Maintain operational communications: Maintain communications between different departments of an organisation, between the staff, or during specific operations or missions, to ensure that the operation or mission is successful, or that the organisation functions smoothly.
  • Apply self-defence: Defend the well-being of oneself in case of threat.
  • Ensure law application: Ensure the laws are followed, and where they are broken, that the correct measures are taken to ensure compliance to the law and law enforcement.
  • Carry out evacuation of airport in an emergency: Assist in the evacuation of airport passengers, staff, and visitors in emergency situations.

ISCO group and title

5414 – Security guards

  1. Airport security officer – ESCO
  2. Airport Security Officer Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By Transportation Security Administration – TSA Passenger Screening Direct, Public Domain
Last updated on November 17, 2022

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