As the summer travel season kicks into high gear, the Transportation Security Administration is looking to add thousands of workers to its ranks.
Tasked with keeping the nation’s skies safe, the TSA is recruiting transportation security officers, canine handlers and other positions, as passenger lines are at all-time historic highs. The agency is looking for motivated, mission-driven applicants in an increasingly tight labor market.
New security officer trainees such as Valeria Garcia are shown the importance of the mission at a two-week, mandatory training academy in Glynco, Georgia. Garcia, 22, participated in a curriculum that focused on customer service and passenger screenings and even detailed the impact of explosives. Trainees learn how to use X-ray machines, how to follow agency protocol, and how to interact with passengers, knowing that airports can be stressful environments for travelers.
“I actually think people believe we're taught to not care … to treat them wrong, and it's not like that,” Garcia said. “We actually learn how to treat passengers with a lot of care and respect and try to connect with them. Even if it's just for two seconds, just to make the experience a little less frightful for them.”
After completing training, Garcia returned to her local airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and trained for an additional 60 hours with an on-site coach, taking back-lessons from the academy. For Garcia, like many officers, the threat of another Sept. 11-type attack is a major motivator to be diligent on the job.
“To be able to work at the TSA, I feel like I am giving back to avoid something like that from ever happening again,” she said.