Airport security officers monitor the safety and security of people and goods. According to Roope Koskinen, Recruitment Coordinator at Airpro, the most visible part of a security officer’s job is the screening and scanning of passengers and their hand luggage before they move on to the gate area.
Part of the job remains hidden from passengers: security officers also screen cargo, freight, vehicles, airport staff and the deliveries to shops in the gate area.
“Basically, this is a customer service job. The airport is busy around the clock, and team work is at the core of what we do”, says Koskinen.
Airport security officers’ job is a wanted one. This year, Airpro recruited some 60 summer workers from a pool of 900 applicants. There are around 500 security officers on Airpro’s pay roll. Most of them are full-time, permanent employees.
Koskinen shares the requirements for a security officer and some of the misconceptions about the job:
To become an airport security officer, what are some of the most essential requirements?
“Personality and a positive attitude are essential. A good security officer is energetic, skilled in languages, motivated and willing to serve customers. The working environment is very social: during one shift, you’ll encounter dozens of colleagues and hundreds, even thousands of passengers. We expect all of our employees to be committed to delivering good customer service.”
“Security officers need to be in good physical and mental condition, because the work is done in shifts and mostly standing on one’s feet. Shifts take place around the clock, and they can last from four to twelve hours. Morning shift begins between four and five o’clock, which is difficult for some.”
What is the training process like? How long does it take before a security officer gets to start working?
“The training and orientation of a new security officer takes four weeks in total. Once a security clearance has been made and an access badge issued, the chosen applicant is notified, and their starting date is agreed on. The applicant is signed up for the security officers’ basic course, which is organised by Finavia. The course consists of five days of training in a class room environment, and it gives you the minimum skill set for working as a security officer. Moreover, the course includes written exams, which the applicant must pass before their employment comes into effect.”
“After the theory module is completed, there is a three-week introduction period, where the beginner goes over all the different tasks and workstations with a dedicated tutor in order to accumulate practical skills. The introduction includes practical examinations, where you demonstrate your skills.”
What are some surprising things about the job that applicants and the public may not be aware of?
“It may not be obvious, but we are a rather youthful community. The average age of our security officers is about 26 years. The largest share of the body of officers is made up of 19–28-year-olds. It’s easy for young people to find common ground, which enables the crew to form a tight-knit community. There are older security officers as well, but they are substantially fewer. We warmly welcome more experienced individuals to join our ranks.”
“One thing that may surprise a novice security officer is the part of the job that is hidden from the public’s eyes, such as screening cargo, which is done in the luggage handling facility.”
“Another surprise may be the fact that in this job, exceptional situations are few and far between. In the long run, the work is mostly routine.”
What are some misconceptions about being a security officer?
“Many have the idea that you need to be a licensed security guard before you can even apply for a security officer’s job. However, this is not the case. You don’t need to be big or look scary in order to be a security officer. There are situations where you need to be firm and emphatic, but above all you need to be humane. If you have experience as a cashier, for example, you may do very well in this job.”
What is required to become a security officer at Airpro?
Age minimum: 18 years
Perfect colour vision
Good physical and mental condition