TSA Background Check for Employment: Complete Guide [2024]
Yedidya Lixenberg

Yedidya, Aviation Industry Expert at JobTestPrep.

Have a question? Contact me at: ask_the_team@jobtestprep.com

The TSA Background Check

In the aftermath of the horrific attacks on 9/11, the United States Government created the TSA to help ensure that a similar attack could never happen again.

However, to safeguard the ranks of this vital agency, a rigorous and thorough background check was set into place as part of the TSA hiring process. From checking credit rating to unpaid debts, and criminal convictions, there are a number of factors that can you lead to automatic disqualification.

The background check is thorough and is conducted at a State or Government Facility. However, one should note that the TSA does not view all criminal convictions equally, so we will look at what types disqualify and which do not.


Permanently Disqualifying Crimes

Well, let's first get "the obvious" out of the way. If you have been convicted or pled guilty to committing or conspiring to commit either murder, espionage, sedition, treason, or terrorism – then don't bother applying.

However, a background check into a number of other examples can lead to an automatic lifetime ban from working at the agency. Below, we will get to other "lesser crimes" that have varying degrees of limitation.

Transportation Security Incident

This crime is defined as "a security incident resulting in a significant loss of life, environmental damage, transportation system disruption, or economic disruption in a particular area."

However, those who were active in unions and organized work stoppages don't have to worry, as an employer-employee dispute is not defined as a Transportation Security Incident.

Explosive Materials

This violation refers to unlawful possession of, selling, distributing, purchasing, exporting, transferring, storing, manufacturing anything with explosive materials as defined by the US legal code.

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)

In short, this refers to those who have been convicted of belonging to gangs, mafias, and other organized crime groups. In addition, the law places any group that commits kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, or obscenities as racketeering.

Background Checks and Other Criminal Offenses

While the above offenses are unforgivable, the agency will conduct a background check on crimes you may have possibly committed at the federal, state, or county levels!

While these crimes may not earn you a permanent ban, some may prevent you from receiving a job offer for five to seven years!

It is important to note that these offenses affect your candidacy whether you are convicted for committing them or conspiracy to commit them.

Weapons and Military Equipment

This violation refers to the unlawful possession, selling, distributing, purchasing, exporting, transferring, storing, manufacturing of firearms or military equipment as defined by the US penal code.

Fraud, Extortion, and Bribery

With the strict exception of welfare fraud and bad checks, money laundering, identity fraud will all put you on the no-hire list at the TSA. Additionally, illegally influencing a public official or being on the receiving end of an illegal financial offering is called bribery and is illegal as well.

Immigration Violations

If you are an immigrant and have worked for at least 180 days within five years without a permit. Additionally, either fraudulent entry into a point of entry or circumvention of a point of entry is a violation that will result in a five to seven-year ban.

Drugs and Death

Buying, distributing or importing an illegal drug. It is unnecessary to add that taking an illegal drug will obviously be picked up during the drug test and will disqualify you as well. Moreover, voluntary manslaughter (ex, heat of passion) or assault with intent to kill are additional categories of crimes, which will impede your ability to work with the TSA.

Sexual and Other Crimes

These include rape or aggravated sexual assault, arson, kidnapping-hostage taking, and robbery.

Warrant or Indictment 

It is important to note that even a warrant for arrest or indictment (until revoked) discovered during the TSA Background Check in any of the violations mentioned above can be enough to prevent your candidacy.

Additional TSA Background Check Methods

There are several additional ways in which the TSA Background Checks are conducted per the Federal Aviation Administration Records (FAA.)

  • Fingerprinting Law – The organization will submit your fingerprints to the FBI to ensure that no Federal crimes were committed.
  • Buying, distributing or importing an illegal drug. It is unnecessary to add that taking an illegal drug will obviously be picked up during the drug test and will disqualify you as well.
  • Medical Certificates – They will check all your medical claims against FAA records to ensure that you are on the up and up.
  • Driving Record – Red flags including, vehicle violations, and license suspensions, will be examined.
  • Identity Check – A wide range of records like your current address and social security will be checked for fraud.
  • Former Workplace – Background checks are used to investigate any previous workplace accidents or financial settlements.
  • References – Do you check out? Make sure your references are good because they will check.


When Will I Get the Results of the TSA Background Checks?

You will usually hear back within 30 days; however, the process can take up to 60 days in some instances.

What Happens if I Fail the Background Checks?

If you have security-related offenses, well, then there is not much you can do. In the event, you think there is a mistake; you can appeal.

Do Felons Ever Get Hired?

While rare, this does happen if the person is qualified and waits the demanded wait period for lighter crimes. This cooling-off period is usually five to seven years after release from incarceration.

Does the Type of Felony Matter?

This is a crucial point. Due to the sensitive nature of the job, domestic criminal convictions and other crimes must be taken seriously. While lighter crimes can allow for a cooling-off period before the candidate can be hired (ex, alcohol-related crimes), the agency cannot afford to take chances with those who have committed severe serious crimes.

What Is the Real-Time Background Check?

In 2015 two big changes were made to the TSA. First, the agency started using real-time, recurring background checks to ensure that staff are keeping clean and out of trouble. Secondly, TSA personnel must go through checks when boarding their own flights.


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Learn More About the Other TSA Hiring Process Stages

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