As passengers return to skies, TSA needs more agents

A Transportation Security Administration job fair began Friday and continues Saturday. 

Roberto Perez retired from the sheriff's office last year after 25 years. Now he's looking to serve his community again, this time as a TSA agent.  He's going through the candidate process on the first of a two-day TSA hiring event in Tampa. 

"I think my experience of dealing with those people and de-escalating those situations would be helpful with the TSA," Perez said.  

"I wish I could put a number to it, but we have a very large hiring need at this time. We have many vacancies," said Rachel DeJesus-Ortiz, an HR specialist with the TSA. 

She says the hiring event will fill gaps at both Tampa and St Pete/Clearwater's airports. Among the benefits is a $1,000 recruitment incentive. The COVID-19 vaccination is required. 

The job openings, DeJesus-Ortiz says, are a result of multiple factors. 

"That’s due to an increase in passenger loads also our staffing has increased in Tampa and St. Pete, so we have many vacancies to fill," she said. 

RELATED: Pirates welcome British travelers to Tampa, on first international flight since pandemic

Despite that, she says, TSA is ready and staffed appropriately for the upcoming holiday rush.

"We’re really good about our wait times. The longest you'll wait in a line is 15 minutes, if that," DeJesus-Ortiz promised. 

The job fair continues on Saturday at the DoubleTree hotel on West Cypress Street.  It runs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.