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Does The TSA Run Background Checks?

Does The TSA Run Background Checks

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a part of Homeland Security. This unit is responsible for the security of travelers. This includes those going through airports, ports, bus stations, train stations, and more.

Created in response to the September 11th terror attacks, it seeks to prevent a repeat of the same. It has over 50,000 staff.

For those seeking a job here, there is a vital concern. Does the TSA run background checks?

The TSA has a variety of positions. Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) make up the bulk. They are the key frontline staff.

Their primary duty is to screen and search passengers and their luggage. They do this at both entry and exit points. TSOs also guide travelers going through security.

Other frontline positions at the TSA include:

  • Behavior Detection Officers
  • Federal Air Marshals
  • Transportation Security Specialist – Explosives
  • Transportation Security Inspectors

Other career areas include professional, administration, and management. The TSA is quite inclusive. They offer chances for those with disabilities and veterans.

So what is the job application process at the TSA?

Applying for A Job at The TSA

There are several ways to get started on the hiring process. You can start on the TSA website. Or, sign up at a job fair.

Here they give a brief on what the jobs in different sections involve. They also include a list of requirements.

For instance, the process to join the federal air marshal service includes:

1 Written application

2 Panel interview

3 Psychological assessment

4 Polygraph test

5 Medical exam

6 Physical training assessment

7 Background check

does the tsa run background check

You can then visit the USAJOBS government website. Here you can look up open positions at the TSA.

They list many details. This includes the opening and closing dates for each job.

They also indicate the salary range and pay grade. A link to benefits is also provided. This can vary depending on whether the job is full-time, part-time, or intermittent.

You will also know the terms such as if full-time and permanent. They also detail at what locations and the number of positions open. Also indicated is if reimbursement for relocation or the option of telework.

Also listed are the requirements and qualifications. They also guide on how you will be evaluated for the job. This includes verifying if a background check and drug test will be done.

Each posting has guidance on how to apply, including the documents to provide and how to submit.


You will need to take a computer-based test. This exam helps to reveal your skills and suitability to work for the TSA.

If you pass, you will get a contingent job offer. It is subject to passing certain background checks. You will also need to complete a national security questionnaire.

Know that the process can be often be tedious and lengthy. You will need to be patient. It can take months to get a definite answer. This is due to the many checks that are required for the job.

Let’s look at some of the basic checks that the TSA runs.

The TSA Background Check

The TSA does run background checks on its employees. This is all part of ensuring a secure transport system. They have to ensure their people are not compromised.

The checks are highly rigorous. Here are some of the basic checks you can expect.

1 Comprehensive criminal background check – Includes felony and misdemeanor checks at the county, state, and federal levels.

2 Credit check

3 Fingerprint check – What shows up on a fingerprint background check? It verifies identity and personal details are checked against FBI criminal databases and terror watch lists.

4 Drug and alcohol-related crimes check – Goes back two years.

5 DMV records check – To verify any incident of moving offenses and that the license is valid if required for the job.

6 Federal Aviation Administration records check – To verify pilot licenses, medical certificates, and so on.

does the tsa run your background check

7 Social Security Number verification – Confirms identity and current address of the employee.

8 Review of air carrier records – To verify personnel has undergone required training.

9 Reference checks – Done on listed references to confirm work history and character.

10 Workers compensation history check – To ascertain any history of workplace accidents and payouts.

Some of these checks are redone regularly. This helps to keep tabs on employees. Recurrent checks keep the TSA updated on whatever new charges or crimes the employee may have acquired.

Can A Felon Work for The TSA?

Given the highly sensitive nature of the jobs, it may be hard to secure work. However, the TSA does not explicitly say they do not hire felons. But they do list some disqualifying criminal offenses.

These include:

  • Espionage
  • Sedition
  • Treason
  • Acts of terrorism
  • Crimes involving transportation security incidents (TSI)
  • Improper transportation of hazardous material
  • Unlawful possession of explosives
  • Murder
  • Racketeering

does tsa run background check

On the other hand, some crimes are interim disqualifying offenses. These disqualify a candidate if committed within seven years of their application. They include:

  • Unlawful possession of a firearm
  • Extortion
  • Fraud
  • Arson
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Bribery
  • Immigration violations
  • Smuggling
  • Drug offenses
  • Robbery
  • Assault

The same applies if a person is under indictment for the charges above. To be considered for a job, the charges must be dismissed.

Many people apply for TSA jobs. The competition is tough. Your best bet is if the crimes are much older and will not be factored in.

Background Screening of Passengers

This is another way the TSA can run checks. The TSA will screen passengers before they arrive at an airport. They make use of many databases to gather data.

Just like with employees, they are making a threat assessment. The intent is to define the risk level of the traveler.

Those considered low risk may later enjoy more relaxed security checks. This can include not having to remove shoes and jackets when going through security.

They make use of such details as name, gender, and date of birth. These details are checked against terror watch lists.

These checks are done on both domestic and international travelers. Passport info and any Homeland Security records are also checked.

There is a PreCheck program that eligible travelers can go through. They complete an application form and provide ID. Also, fingerprints are submitted that are used in background checks.

If they pass the PreCheck, they are allowed an expedited security check process. On the downside, this info can be shared with other law enforcement. The FBI has been known to run prints through their unsolved crimes database.

Even TSA and airline employees have to go through the same security checks when flying as passengers.


Start by running a background check on yourself. This will let you know what shows up on a background check run by the TSA.

Also, do consult a lawyer. They can advise you on what measures you can take to improve your report.

In some states, you can have your offense reduced to a misdemeanor. You may also qualify for other relief like an expungement or pardon.

Ensure that when making your application you are as comprehensive and honest as possible. Any omissions or discrepancies can disqualify you.

Check out our list of best jobs for felons. Here you can find great opportunities that can turn into lucrative careers. Follow our guidance above and you will improve your chance of landing the job you want.

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