An Interview with Demond Goins
“As a transportation security officer, I spend most of my time working with the public and with other security officers. Only about 10% of my day is spent working alone.”
Demond Goins is a transportation security officer at Los Angeles International Airport.
Demond attended Montana State University, and plans to return to finish his bachelors degree. He became a transportation security officer because he was interested in working in an airport environment after September 11th.
In your own words, what is a transportation security officer?
There are many different functions of a transportation security officer. The most important part of the job is providing a safe environment for the traveling public. Transportation security officers screen and secure passengers and baggage, and also patrol for anything suspicious or abnormal to ensure safety. Transportation security officers are very common in big cities, because we most frequently work in airports.
If a student said to you, “I am interested in becoming a transportation security officer,” what would your response be?
I would tell a student who is interested in becoming a transportation security officer that it is a great stepping stone to get into government jobs. Transportation security officers can go on to work in border patrol or customs, or even work with federal air marshals.
I would also say that it is important to have a clean background. Transportation security officers cannot have a criminal record or a lot of financial debt. Other than that, anyone can apply online.
What level of education is necessary to become a transportation security officer?
It is not necessary to have a college education to become a transportation security officer. But I do recommend going to college because it will open your mind to a lot of new experiences and potential career paths.
Are there any licensing or certification requirements to become a transportation security officer?
No, there are no licensing requirements to become a transportation security officer, although once you are hired you will go through a series of classes and training to receive certification.
Why did you decide to become a transportation security officer?
I became a transportation security officer because I was interested in exploring a new opportunity. After 9/11, I was drawn to the field and I finally decided to try it out. I have enjoyed the job so far.
What were the biggest misconceptions that you had about becoming a transportation security officer?
My biggest misconception about becoming a transportation security officer was that security officers are not valued or respected. But transportation security officers, in my experience, have a lot more respect than security officers in other settings, such as malls.
What do you enjoy most and least about being a transportation security officer?
What I enjoy most about being a transportation security officer is working in the airport environment. Especially working in a big airport like Los Angeles International, I encounter all sorts of people, including businessmen, actors and athletes. I learn a lot from observing the people in my working environment.
My least favorite part of my job is that sometimes it can get chaotic. It is a dangerous job and I have to maintain my composure in stressful situations. I also don’t enjoy the times when I have to deal with unruly passengers or I am unable to help people.
What is a typical day like for you?
On a typical day, I arrive at the airport and attend a morning briefing. Then, I go to my assigned station for the day. I often check passengers’ luggage, which includes looking at an x ray image of the bags, to ensure that there is nothing dangerous inside. If something in the x ray image looks suspicious, I open the bag to inspect its contents. Sometimes I work at the metal detectors, and pat people down when they set off the detectors.
As a transportation security officer, I spend most of my time working with the public and with other security officers. Only about 10% of my day is spent working alone.
How do you balance your work and your personal life?
To balance my work with my personal life, I try to set my work schedule around my personal obligations. For instance, I have decided to return to college, and when I do, I will set my work schedule around my classes. I also make it a priority to have time for my family and friends on my days off.
Because this is a stressful job, it can bleed into my personal life if I am not careful. When I am at work, I take walks on my breaks to blow off steam. Other times I will go to a quiet place for a few minutes. Dealing with the stress of my day while I am at work helps me leave it at work.
What personality traits do you think would help someone succeed as a transportation security officer and what traits would hinder success?
The most important trait for a transportation security officer is decisiveness. Every day, transportation security officers assess dangerous situations and make important decisions quickly. In addition to decisiveness, a transportation security officer should be naturally observant, because an important part of the job is staying alert for potential hazards.
One trait that might hinder a transportation security officer’s success is laziness. Transportation security officers must always be vigilant, and a complacent person will not be successful.
Another trait that would hinder someone’s success is being antisocial. Transportation security officers work with the public every day, and sometimes people are difficult to get along with. Being unable to work with a variety of people would make it difficult to be successful.
Looking back at your formal education, is there anything you would have done differently?
The only thing that I would do differently would be to finish college. Due to some unforeseen personal circumstances, I was unable to complete my last semester of college. However, I plan to finish in the near future.
Are there any extra-curricular experiences that you think a student interested in becoming a transportation security officer should pursue?
If you are interested in becoming a transportation security officer, I recommend that you stay up to date on both technological developments and what is happening within the government. Learn about computers and other technical aspects of the transportation security field, because that will help you get a job. In addition, keep yourself informed about the government and current events, because this is a government position and that knowledge will be helpful to get a job as a transportation security officer.
What classes did you take during your schooling that you have found to be the most and least valuable for the work you do today?
The most valuable classes I took in college were courses on industrial technology. In my job, I use technology daily, and I see a lot of technological advancements. Working with security equipment requires expertise, and having some education in that area helps me to perform my duties.
The only class that has not helped me at all was a course on philosophy. Other general education requirements, such as math, speech and English, have some degree of value in my career. However, I have never used the information I learned in my philosophy class to perform my job.
What words of advice or caution would you share with a student who is interested in becoming a transportation security officer?
If you are interested in becoming a transportation security officer, I recommend that you keep a clean record. Transportation security officers are prohibited from having a criminal record. Any felonies in your past will automatically disqualify you, so keep your record spotless.
That being said, I would recommend this job to anyone who wants to have opportunities for growth and advancement. There are plenty of opportunities within this field, and a job as a transportation security officer is a great stepping stone. Once you get into the door, you can take your career in any direction.