Air travel safety in the U.S. is managed by the Transportation Security Administration, a federal government agency that was created in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. While pilots and airplane maintenance staff are responsible for keeping passengers safe while planes are airborne, airport security officers and screeners keep passengers safe by inspecting baggage and investigation suspicious activities in airports.
Transportation security officers or screeners work at security checkpoints and observe the flow of passengers through checkpoints, conduct pat down searches and operate x-ray machines and hand wands. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of transportation security screeners was $37,650 in May 2010. This income level translates to an hourly wage of $18.10. The median annual salary in the occupation was $37,070.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the annual income of the top 10 percent of airport security screeners was $44,850 or more in May 2010, while the bottom 10 percent of income earners in the occupation made $31,430 or less. Half of all workers in the occupation earned between $34,090 and $39,990. The Transportation Security Administration says that transportation security officer receive compensation according to a basic pay rate table where the minimum income is $25,518 for 2011 and 2012 and the maximum income is $44,007. The basic pay table does not, however, include extra pay based on worker location.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the top paying states for transportation security screeners were Louisiana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey. Workers in these states earned average annual incomes of $39,680 or more in May 2010. Hawaii has the highest concentration of airport security workers of any state and workers in Hawaii earned $35,580 a year on average.
Other Security Positions
Some Transportation Security Administration workers hold positions that have more responsibility than the typical security officer has and are granted high base pay. The Transportation Security Administration says that supervisory transportation security officers have a base minimum pay of $39,358 and a maximum base pay of $60,982 while transportation security managers that oversee workers at security checkpoints have minimum base pay of $48,007 and a maximum base pay of $74,390.