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Airport & TSA Background Checks: Everything You Need To Know Before You Apply

Airport & TSA Background Checks: Everything You Need To Know Before You Apply

If you’re on a job hunt and considering applying for a new position at the airport, you should know a few things about the required extensive background check. In this article, we’ll discuss what TSA background checks entail, the specifics they look for, and what can get you disqualified from the position you’re applying for.

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What Does a TSA Background Check Include?

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) mandates comprehensive background checks for individuals seeking access to restricted areas within and around airports. These background checks have evolved significantly, especially following the events of September 11th, 2001, to enhance the security measures surrounding airports and airplanes.

TSA background checks have been more refined in response to various incidents and security breaches since the tragic events in 2001. In 2015, the TSA implemented revisions to its personnel background checks, prompted by the discovery of a baggage handler engaging in the unlawful transport of firearms on commercial flights.

Since security for airports can’t be taken lightly, TSA background checks include:

  • Fingerprinting and processing, cross-referencing with FBI criminal databases and terrorist watch lists.
  • Criminal background searches at county, state, and federal levels encompassing felonies and misdemeanors.
  • Verification of pilot licenses, medical certificates, and related records through Federal Aviation Administration checks.
  • Review of air carrier records to confirm completion of requisite training protocols.
  • Examine the last two years for drug- or alcohol-related offenses and incidents.
  • Comprehensive assessment of driving history for prior motor vehicle violations, license suspensions, and other relevant details.
  • Validation of Social Security Numbers for fraud prevention and current residential address confirmation.
  • Verification of licenses or certificates to ensure candidates meet TSA-approved qualifications.
  • Scrutiny of workers' compensation history to identify prior workplace accidents, injuries, or settlements.
  • Reference checks to corroborate candidate-provided information.

What could Disqualify me During a TSA Background Check?

While the background check to work at the airport or TSA is extensive, the question arises, “What will disqualify me during a TSA background check for an airport position?” Here are a few examples of what will automatically disqualify you for the position. So, if you have any of these criminal charges on your record that can’t come off, it will save you time to realize you shouldn’t apply for a TSA or airport position.

Firearms and Military Equipment Offenses:
This violation pertains to the illegal possession, sale, distribution, purchase, export, transfer, storage, or manufacturing of firearms and military equipment as defined by the US penal code.

TSA Employment Consequences for Money Laundering and Identity Fraud:
Except for welfare fraud and bad checks, engaging in money laundering and identity fraud can result in placement on the TSA's no-hire list. Furthermore, participating in illegal actions to influence a public official or receiving illicit financial incentives constitutes unlawful bribery.

Immigration Offenses: Work Without Permit and Entry Violations:
For immigrants, working without a valid permit for at least 180 days within five years is a violation. Additionally, fraudulent entry at a designated point of entry or bypassing a point of access leads to a violation, resulting in a five to seven-year ban.

Prohibited Drug Activities and Violent Crimes:
Engaging in purchasing, distributing, or importing illegal drugs is strictly prohibited. It's worth noting that drug use is detectable during drug testing and disqualifies candidates. Voluntary manslaughter (e.g., heat of passion) or assault with intent to kill are additional crime categories that hinder eligibility for TSA employment.

Serious Offenses: Rape, Sexual Assault, Arson, Kidnapping, and Robbery
These offenses encompass rape, aggravated sexual assault, arson, kidnapping-hostage taking, and robbery.

Legal Warrants and Indictments in TSA Background Checks:
The discovery of an outstanding warrant for arrest or indictment (until revoked) during the TSA Background Check in any of the abovementioned violations can disqualify your candidacy.

What Crimes Will Automatically Disqualify Me During a TSA Background Check?

You should be aware of the TSA employment eligibility and disqualifying offenses. If you have any of the following that will show up on your TSA background check, you should opt out of applying for an airport position.

Transportation Security Incidents: This offense encompasses actions leading to substantial loss of life, environmental harm, disruptions to transportation systems, or economic turmoil in a specific region. Disputes from labor unions or organized work stoppages aren't classified as Transportation Security Incidents.

Explosive Materials Violations: This violation pertains to the illicit possession, sale, distribution, purchase, export, transfer, storage, or manufacturing of items containing explosive materials, as defined by the US legal code.

RICO Act Convictions: This pertains to individuals convicted of affiliations with gangs, mafias, or other organized criminal entities. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) categorizes any group involved in crimes like kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, or obscenity as engaging in racketeering.

What Else is Involved in a TSA Background Check?

Here is additional information on how the TSA background checks are conducted through Federal Aviation Administration Records (FAA.)

Fingerprinting and FBI Verification:
The TSA will submit your fingerprints to the FBI for thorough scrutiny, ensuring the absence of any Federal crimes in your history.

Illegal Drug Activities and Disqualification:
Engaging in purchasing, distributing, or importing illegal drugs is strictly prohibited. It's essential to note that drug use is detectable during drug testing and leads to disqualification.

Medical Certificates and FAA Verification:
All medical assertions will undergo rigorous cross-checking against FAA records to verify their accuracy and compliance.

Driving Record and Driving History Examination:
This comprehensive evaluation includes a review of your driving record for any concerning indicators, such as vehicle violations and license suspensions.

Identity Verification and Fraud Detection:
A thorough examination of various records, including your current address and social security information, will be conducted to detect and prevent any instances of fraud.

Former Workplace Investigations:
TSA background checks investigate any prior workplace incidents or financial settlements, ensuring transparency and accountability.

Reference Validation:
Ensuring that your references provide positive endorsements is crucial, as the TSA screening process includes thorough reference checks to validate your qualifications. So make sure you have a list of good references!


How Long Does a TSA Background Check Take?

Due to a thorough investigation into your background and history discussed above, a TSA background check can usually come back in 30 days but could also take 60 days to receive results.

Can I Work at the Airport with a Criminal Record?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a vital arm of the Department of Homeland Security, maintains stringent hiring standards. TSA positions offer competitive compensation in challenging job markets while playing a pivotal role in counterterrorism and airport safety. Unfortunately, individuals with a criminal history may find securing employment with the TSA difficult.

What if My Charges Were Expunged?

Taking steps to expunge, seal, vacate, or set aside your criminal record enhances your opportunity to secure a TSA job. However, the TSA's federal focus on security and counterterrorism requires a comprehensive background check. It’s imperative to be honest during the application process, showcasing personal growth and the absence of any security threats. Remember, you won't know the outcome until you make an effort, so pursue record expungement, present your best self, and remain hopeful for a successful application.

TSA Background Check: Last Word:

Working at the airport has many perks, such as free flights, excellent health insurance, etc., so you can see the appeal. But getting your foot in the door can be difficult. If you know you can pass a TSA background check, feel free to apply! You must be patient during the application and background check process because it can take time.

Suppose you’re unsure about what will show up and were ever convicted of any of the above criminal charges. In that case, we highly recommend running a pre-qualifying background check on yourself before you apply. Remember, TSA background checks go much deeper than the essential background check you’re accustomed to.

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