The application timeline for the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, varies in length depending on openings at the government agency. You could submit your application online and not hear back from the TSA for six months until a vacancy opens up in your location, or you could hear from the department the next day if an opening is immediately available. Other components of your application, including your background information, take time to validate, so rushing the process could cause errors.
Submitting your online application using the federal government's USA Jobs website may take a couple of hours, depending on your work history and the requirements of the particular job you're targeting. The application process requires you to answer a variety of questions relating to your education, work experience and ability to learn new concepts while working in a stressful environment. You must also be at least 18 years old at the time of your application to work as a TSA security officer and at least 21 years old at the time of your application to work as a federal air marshal with the TSA.
The Transportation Security Administration requires an FBI-level background check to determine your eligibility for hire. The time required to process this background check depends on the number of other candidates applying with the TSA and can push back a formal decision on your hire for several weeks or even months. The TSA can disqualify your application for employment based on a variety of criminal convictions and financial problems, ranging from interference with air navigation or a flight crew to accumulated delinquent debt valued higher than $7,500.
The application process with the TSA also requires you to successfully complete a series of written or online tests administered by the government agency. These tests determine your ability to assimilate new concepts and handle the technology necessary to conduct your job in the field as a security officer. The TSA determines the timetable for these tests, and you must agree to a confidentiality agreement to not disclose any information related to the tests, including questions and possible answers.
You must still complete additional training hours with the TSA even after the agency hires you. According to the Transportation Security Administration's website, a newly hired security officer must participate in 180 hours of classroom and on-the-job training to learn security procedures and techniques for detecting contraband while in the field. The TSA requires additional equipment tests if you wish to earn certification to screen both passengers and checked bags. Only after completing your required training are you officially a TSA security officer and a full-time employee.