Airport baggage screener salary & career outlook
Airport baggage screeners work on the front lines of airport security, helping to keep the airways safe by identifying hazardous or illegal materials in passenger luggage. These professionals have the important job of checking airline baggage for compliance with federal safety and security guidelines, often working as part of a team of security personnel who screen passengers and luggage. Airport baggage screeners are trained to use electronic detection and imaging equipment, and also to perform baggage checks by hand.
Airport baggage screener salaries
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific salary information for airport baggage screeners, it does give detailed information for transportation security screeners, which may be used as a baseline for baggage screener salary info. According to the BLS, federal transportation security screeners earned mean annual wages of $37,650 as of May 2010, with the top ten percent earning $44,850 on average.
GlassDoor.com, a site that uses salary information from real-world employers and employees, reports that one airport screener position with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) paid between $31,000 and $33,000 annually.
Of course, factors like location can affect specific salaries. The BLS lists these states as paying the highest mean annual wages for transportation security screeners in 2010:
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
Cost of living is another important consideration when factoring salary data. The following metropolitan areas boasted the highest wages relative to cost of living, based on information from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) for the first quarter of 2011, as well as BLS wage data for 2010:
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas: $41,460
- New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La.: $41,150
- Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.: $40,560
- Baton Rogue, La.: $40,390
Finally, experience and education can also play a role in airport baggage screener salaries.
How to become an airport baggage screener
In most cases, training for airport baggage screeners is provided on the job. A high school diploma or GED is usually required for this position, though additional work experience in security or coursework in criminal justice may help land the job. Transportation security officers (TSOs) employed by the TSA are required to participate in an initial 180 hours of classroom and on-the-job training, depending on the position. Specialized careers in airport safety and baggage screening may require additional training. For example, to work as a bomb appraisal officer for the TSA, you would be required to graduate from an accredited improvised explosive devices/bomb disposal course given by the FBI's Hazardous Devices School or the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal School.
Career outlook for airport baggage screeners
According to the BLS, jobs in the air transportation industry are expected to grow by 7 percent in the 2008 to 2018 decade, with specific growth data varying by occupation. Entry-level positions like baggage handler should offer promising job prospects, especially with the right education and training.