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What Criteria To Become TSA Agent Or INS Officer?  
User currently offlineMozart From Luxembourg, joined Aug 2003, 2406 posts, RR: 21
Posted (12 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 12042 times:

There is a lot of debate about TSA and INS in this forum, so I would like to strengthen my fact base (as so far I only have subjective experience).

What are the requirements to become a TSA agent or INS officer (I know there must be two diff. requirements, those are two different jobs)? Any physical criteria? Can you be a Muslim? Arab-born? Do you have to speak foreign language? Can you have committed a crime? Are certain professions (eg, former private security agents) prohibited from becoming TSA/INS? Is there an "education test" (eg INS officers tested on basic knowledge of geography)?

What is the typical career path? When you become a TSA Agent, is there a promotion path?

This is a serious question, so please despite the unpleasant experiences some of you certainly have had, please no "they're all monkeys"-kind of answers. I would really like to know.

4 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (12 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 12023 times:

Very interesting question!

I think that you must attend a long training to become INS officer, these people must be able to identify falsified documents and passports, and they must know a lot of visa appointments.

These TSA people always looked very unexperienced to me, seems they have only a two or three week training course before they can work at an airport.


User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 12021 times:

I think we have at least one former INS officer (now USCIS) on these forums who might be able to share some more details.

User currently offlineDanny From Poland, joined Apr 2002, 3535 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (12 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 12007 times:

First and obvious requirement is that you must be a US Citizen.

User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (12 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 11976 times:

For TSA Screener

All candidates must meet minimum qualification requirements established by law including:

U.S. citizen or U.S. national.
High school diploma, GED or equivalent, or one year of security or aviation screening experience.
English proficiency.
Pass a background check.

For INS Agent

Basic Qualification Requirements for Border Patrol

1. You must be a United States citizen.

2. You must possess a valid automobile driver's license.

3. The U.S. Border Patrol entrance examination is a three-part test which covers logical reasoning skill; Spanish Language, or if you don't speak Spanish, an Artificial Language test that predicts your ability to learn Spanish and an assessment of job related experiences and achievements.

4. To qualify at the GS-5 level, you must have a substantial background of experience (paid, voluntary, full or part-time), of which at least one year must have been comparable in level of difficulty and responsibility to grade GS-4 in the Federal service. The work experience does not have to be law enforcement related. (You must describe all work experience in your application for employment in order to gain proper consideration.)


This type of experience must demonstrate an ability to take charge, make decisions and maintain composure in stressful situations; it must demonstrate an ability to maintain interpersonal relationships with coworkers and the public and it must demonstrate a propensity to learn both on the job and through formal instruction.

If you do not have the work experience described above, a 4-year college degree can be substituted for and is fully qualifying for the GS-5 level. There is no requirement that the degree is in any particular field or that it is a recent degree;


You may qualify through a combination of education and work experience (assuming you have not completed your degree). Each year of full-time semester or quarter units equates to three months of general work experience. For example, if you had two (2) years of full-time college education, that would equate to six months of experience with an additional six (6) months of generalized work experience, you could qualify for the GS-5 position.

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