TSA Ready Pool: A Complete Candidate Guide [2024]

The Steps to the TSA Ready Pool

There are several steps that lead to the pool. One must first pass a TSA computer-based test, which includes the Screener English Test and a Screener Object Recognition Test.

The next stage consists of a structured interview, fingerprinting, and verification of U.S. citizenship, which is all part of the Airport Assessment. Lastly, you will have to go through a medical evaluation, including a drug test and a preliminary background check security clearance.

The Three Pool Qualification Levels

Throughout your entire assessment period, it is crucial to remember that all scores on every segment of the process will come together to place you into one of the three groupings below.

Let's take a look:

  • Best Qualified - your performance at every stage of the TSA hiring process was outstanding.
  • Highly Qualified - means you passed all of the application phases with a satisfactory level.
  • Qualified - means you met the minimum requirements for all stages of the recruitment process.

In theory, the higher you rank on the qualification level chart, the higher your chances to get hired as a TSA employee. However, as you will see below, the TSA has come under scrutiny for failure to meet these standards by the Office of Inspection General.

Still, however, your ability to stay focused and complete every assignment maximally will still play in your favor.


Recent Failure Highlights the Importance of the Qualification Levels

In 2015, the TSA Chief was fired after undercover DHS breach tests exposed a 95% fail rate. Screeners failed to find weapons and even explosives during searches. Again in 2017, agents did not fare much better during another round of DHS breach tests, with an 80% fail rate.

So, as you can imagine, the Transportation Security Administration is doing everything possible, including taking the best-qualified candidates. As a result, in 2021, the agency nearly doubled its catch rate of illegal firearms and explosives.

Wait-Time for a Final Job Offer

After passing the TSA airport assessment, medical tests, and background check, when will you get a job offer?

The truth is that there is no one rule for any two job seekers. Some applicants get a phone call within a couple of weeks, while others have to hold on tight for six months.

While it may be disappointing, it is important to understand that it will be impossible to get any more information about your candidacy once you get into the pool.

Delay in TSA Application Status

While there is no way to know how long you will wait to get hired, there is a significant reason why there may be a delay in hearing back from any given local airport, even after a successful background investigation.

While an airport may even face a workforce shortage, many airports can only train 8-10 new TSA employees every two weeks.

In addition, new hires have reported that the Transportation Security Administration has been suffering a lack of mentors responsible for ensuring that newbies learn the ropes. Thus, many good transportation security officer candidates stay in limbo.

On average, those in the pool had to wait eight months to receive an answer.

Transportation Security Administration Failures

Recently, the Office of Inspection General came out with a report on the deficiencies of the TSA's ability to retain, hire, and train.

The report found that the organization has "no formally documented criteria or clear guidance describing the process it uses to rank applicants."

Furthermore, and perhaps more troubling, the TSA could not provide the Office of Inspection General any clear reasoning behind their scoring, which is loosely based on points related to the Screener Object Recognition Test and airport interview.

Finally, the report noted that it could not even verify if the TSO Cert Tool, a program that calculates the scores of those in the pool, is even programmed correctly.

The report questioned if these deficiencies led to underqualified applicants' job offerings. This would render the above-mentioned pool qualification levels meaningless.

It should be mentioned that the report found airports that admitted to deleting or shredding applicants' files, while others could not produce full files.

TSA Admits to Systemic Failures Affecting Ready Pool

One of the greatest criticisms of the agency is the long wait at the end of the process. In its response to the Office of Inspection General, the TSA admitted that many good officers are leaving for the private sector. While it's clear from the report that these losses are due to the systemic issues plaguing the agency, the TSA decided to blame wages alone.

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Our TSA practice tests are made to mirror any possible version of the test- the exact questions you'll face in the new TSA exam, and the older X-ray and English tests that have still been given to candidates throughout the year. 

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Learn More About the Other TSA Hiring Process Stages



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