Does the TSA Run Background Checks? -
Finding Employment

Does the TSA Run Background Checks?

Does the TSA Run Background Checks

In looking for a job after release, a felon who has experience working in the airline transportation industry may want to apply for a job at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This blog post will cover whether or not the TSA run background checks.

  • What Is Included in a Background Check?
  • TSA Application
  • TSA Background Check on Job Applicants
  • TSA Background Checks on Passengers?
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
  • Tips for Getting a Job at the TSA

What Is Included in a Background Check?

Employers like the TSA review an applicant’s background because they don’t want someone who doesn’t succeed after starting a job. This is considered to be a “bad hire,” which is someone who:

  • Doesn’t produce quality work
  • Has a negative attitude
  • Doesn’t work well with other employees
  • Doesn’t deal well with customers
  • Doesn’t have the skills they stated on an application
  • Has attendance problems
  • Is dishonest on the job

The last question is the biggest challenge for felons. Their criminal history can be a problem when applying at the TSA even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.

An employer may view:

  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Educational records
  • Criminal offenses

Background information helps an employer like the TSA to determine a candidate’s:

  • Past mistakes
  • Character
  • Financial fitness

This allows an employer to identify hiring risks for security and safety issues for the company.

The criminal record review part of a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check, if a felon has his or her record expunged.

TSA Application

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created following 9/11 to increase the security of the national transportation system. TSA workers are federal government employees within the Department of Homeland Security. Most TSA agents, especially at the entry level, work as screeners.

TSA screeners provide security screening at airports, railways, subways, and seaports. They are responsible for screening passengers, luggage, and cargo to make sure they comply with all security requirements.

Typical duties of a TSA screener include:

  • Discovering and stopping transportation security threats
  • Educating travelers
  • Screening passengers
  • Coordinating security for aviation, rail, and sea transportation
  • Coordinating security during national emergencies

A TSA screener must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. National and at least 18 years old. Some positions require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice but other jobs require a high school diploma or a GED only.

There are approximately 42,750 TSA screeners in the U.S. assigned to over 450 locations. The minimum requirement to become a TSA agent is one year of experience in security or as an X-ray technician.

Although education and experience requirements for TSA jobs vary according to the position, an applicant must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Be able to pass a drug screening and medical evaluation
  • Pass a background investigation, which includes a credit check and a criminal check

All candidates for TSA jobs who meet the agency’s minimum requirements complete an application on the TSA website. They are evaluated by using a number of assessments, which include:

  • Computer Based Test – Tests English language proficiency and X-ray interpretation aptitude
  • Color vision test
  • A structured interview that assesses an individual’s decision-making abilities and the ability to work with teams and with the public
  • Drug screening
  • Medical evaluation that includes a vision screening, hearing exam, and a joint mobility exam
  • Background investigation

The following factors will disqualify an applicant:

  • Combined delinquent debt of $7,500 or more
  • Unpaid state or federal tax liens in any amount
  • Delinquent child support in any amount
  • Unpaid court judgments in any amount
  • Delinquent student loans in any amount
  • Criminal offenses in the previous 10 years

TSA Background Check on Job Applicants

The TSA requires an extensive background check for anyone before being permitted access to restricted areas in airports. A TSA background check on job applicants includes the following:

  • Fingerprint verification
  • Felony and misdemeanor criminal searches at the county, state, and federal level
  • Check of Federal Aviation Administration records to verify licenses
  • Air carrier record reviews
  • Search for drug or alcohol-related crimes in the past two years
  • Driving history checks for past motor vehicle violations and license suspensions
  • Social Security Number validation
  • License or certificate verification to ensure a candidate is qualified to work in a TSA capacity
  • Workers Compensation history to look for a history of workplace accidents, injuries, or settlements
  • Reference checks to verify information provided by the applicant

Some positions with the TSA require verification of the most recent five years of employment, education, and unemployment. Any gap of 12 months or more must be verified.

The TSA may determine an applicant is ineligible if a security threat assessment reveals:

  • Foreign or domestic criminal convictions
  • A conviction for a serious crime
  • Imprisonment exceeding 365 consecutive days

An applicant may also not be eligible based on security-related offenses at an airport or on an aircraft. He or she may also be disqualified when lacking mental capacity or being involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.

An applicant will be disqualified if there is a conviction or a guilty plea or been found not guilty by reason of insanity for any of the following felonies:

  • Espionage
  • Sedition
  • Treason
  • Federal crime of terrorism
  • Crime involving a transportation security incident
  • Improper transporting of a hazardous material
  • Unlawful possession, use, or sale of explosives
  • Murder
  • Maliciously conveying false information regarding explosives in a public place or government facility
  • Racketeering

Conviction of any of the following felonies or pleading guilty within the past seven years:

  • Unlawful possession, use, or sale of firearms
  • Extortion or fraud
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration violation
  • Distribution or possession of a controlled substance
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
  • Assault with intent to kill
  • Robbery
  • Fraudulent entry into a seaport
  • Racketeering
  • Voluntary manslaughter

An individual will be disqualified when under indictment for any of the offenses listed above.

TSA Background Checks on Passengers?

Airlines do not run a criminal background check on passengers since they do not have any police authority. If a screening is done, it is under the guidance of the TSA. It will rely on an identity authentication and a risk assessment by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The TSA screens passengers before they arrive at the airport using government and private databases containing personal information. The TSA uses the information to make a risk assessment of passengers. The air travel background check involves comparing a passenger’s name, gender, and date of birth to a terrorist watch list.

Those passengers whose name shows up in the risk assessment may not be allowed aboard an aircraft or ship.

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Doing a background check on him or herself before applying at the TSA will allow a felon to know exactly what will be discovered when the TSA does its review. A felon with any questions can contact an attorney. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.

There are different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run:

  • From the court in which he or she was charged
  • A credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is
  • Driving records for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver
  • An educational report through the National Student Clearing House

For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help. A felon would have the best chance at getting a job at the TSA by having his or her record expunged.

Tips for Getting a Job at the TSA

Suggestions for a felon to increase his or her chances to be hired at the TSA are:

  • Arrive early for an interview
  • Dress appropriately
  • Make a positive first impression on the interviewers
  • Speak clearly
  • Make a case for a new job opportunity
  • Emphasize relevant experience and skills
  • Be ready to provide a job history with a current resume

Don’t hide the fact that he or she has a felony conviction if it comes up. Instead, explain the facts about that conviction without being emotional.

It is never a good idea to lie about one’s past on an application. This could result in not being considered for a job if the TSA finds out about it and could result in criminal prosecution for filing a fraudulent application. Highlight skills and abilities that qualify him or her for the job; focus on them during the interview.

Take responsibility for past actions and explain how he or she is putting life in order. Doing his or her own background check allows a felon to know what the TSA will see on his or her record.

A felon needs to remember that he or she is not defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but in how we recover from them. He or she must be willing to seeing him or herself in a different light, ready to establish an honest life.

The best opportunity for success in a new life begins with having support from family and friends. After all, felons do make good employees.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not the TSA runs background checks? Have you or someone you know had the TSA run a background check? What was that like and was he or she successful in being hired? Please tell us in the comments below.

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