Job Security: Earn a TSA Screener’s Salary

From the guy in the lobby at your work to the gal scanning luggage at the airport, security officers surround us – even more than we know. Beside the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) folks in bright blue shirts at the airport, there are thousands of plainclothes security folks, like air marshals, secret service agents and security technology specialists, working to keep us safe.

Besides being brave, hip to current events and knowledgeable about weapons, can you guess what the coolest thing is that these folks all have in common? They are employed! Yes, they have jobs in this down economy. And, they’re likely to hold onto their jobs if they work for the federal government.

According to a recent Washington Post article, “Bill Increasing Homeland Security's Budget Passes House,” the Department of Homeland Security’s budget jumped 7 percent this year to total $44 billion. The bigger budget makes room for double the number of border patrol agents than we had in 2001 and provides $10 billion to the Coast Guard, particularly to help with pirates off the coast of Somalia.

What does all that money translate to? Jobs, jobs, jobs. Whether you like it or not, the government is spending a lot of your tax dollars on security and if you want to make a living, it’s a fruitful place to be right now.

What do federal security agents make? Will a TSA gig pay your mortgage? Good question. Let’s dig around on PayScale and see what we can find out.

First off, if you’re looking for a job in homeland security, go to the USAJOBS website. I went there and found a few job titles to research on PayScale.

Let’s try a TSA screener’s salary. It looks like you start just over $11 dollars an hour but can move up gradually to over $17 by year nine.

Does $11-17 an hour not sound like much? Well, consider the vast benefits package you would likely have. According to USAJOBS’ benefits page, you would be eligible for health insurance, sick leave, paid vacation, retiree health benefits, a 401K, recruitment bonuses, incentive bonuses, relocation bonuses, interagency transfers, employee development programs and more, more, more. Very few private companies offer all of these benefits anymore.

Now, what about a Secret Service salary or SWAT team salary? Maybe the riskier jobs provide higher pay. That data is a bit harder to find. But, PayScale does have salary data for a border guard and border guards definitely earn more than $11 an hour.

Regardless of where you end up in world of federal jobs in security, it’s likely a Secret Service salary, SWAT team salary, or a border patrol salary will be a big improvement over no salary at all. Uncle Sam wants you.

Plus, if you believe in the mission of the Homeland Security Administration, you can take great pride in your work and that, in my opinion, is worth millions.


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