Federal Air Marshal
Though federal air marshals have long played an important role in air and transit safety, they became very important after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Becoming an air marshal requires the ability to work independently, protect yourself and others with self-defense tactics and firearms usage, and know how to respond to emergencies. If you are interested in working for the Transportation Security Administration, contact the schools featured below to learn how you can prepare for a career keeping the skies safe.
Air Marshal Job Description
Federal air marshals observe others on their flight to keep an eye out for signs of terrorist activity. If there’s something suspicious, the federal air marshal must be ready to act and defend the safety of the plane and its passengers. Self-defense and marksmanship are two key components of your job. You need to be able to use a variety of self-defense skills and tactics to take down those who would hurt you or other passengers. You must always maintain your marksmanship skills. Airplanes have very tight quarters, so you need to be able to hit your target every time. Though air marshals are federal government employees, they do not typically identify themselves as law enforcement officials to other passengers on the plane. They must blend in with other passengers and look like they are just typical civilians.
The Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, employs and oversees federal air marshals. Education, experience, or a combination of the two can be used to qualify for a position with the TSA. While a bachelor’s degree in any field may be enough to qualify you for a federal air marshal position, it’s important to note that this is a fairly competitive field. As a result, you may need a blend of experience and higher-level education to get hired.
How to Become a Federal Air Marshal
Federal air marshals are required to get and maintain Top Security Clearance, the highest security clearance in the country. Because of this requirement, you must have a clear criminal history and be able to pass an extensive background check. You may also be subjected to a rigorous physical exam and in-depth medical exam.
Before applying for a federal air marshal position, it’s important to ensure that you meet TSA’s minimum education requirements. A degree in criminal justice or a related field may is recommended. A master’s degree may help you stand out over other applicants. If you have three years of general work experience, it may take the place of the required education if at least one year involves leadership, problem analysis, and communication skills.
If you make it through the Transportation Security Administration’s hiring process, you must go through their training process. The training program for federal air marshals is completed in two phases. First, you go to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico. This program lasts for seven weeks. In it, you may enhance your physical fitness, learn how to read and observe behavior in people, learn how to defend yourself, and get a strong background in constitutional law. In the second part of your training, you go to the William J. Hughes Technical Center. This program focuses extensively on marksmanship, since students need near-perfect marksmanship by the time they graduate. When you complete both parts of your training, you can get an assignment and begin your career as a federal air marshal.
Federal Air Marshal Salary and Career Outlook
The Transportation Security Administration has its own pay scale for employees. Federal air marshals are hired at Pay Band G. According to the latest pay scale, in 2017 the beginning salary at this level if $40,958 per year. The top salary at this level is $63,458 per year. In addition to your base salary, you can earn locality pay. This part of your pay is based on what office you are assigned to and the cost of living in that area.
Air marshals are some of the most secretive law enforcement professionals in the country. Air marshals must craft cover stories that relate to why they’re flying, where they’re going, and who they’re visiting. This allows marshals to interact with fellow passengers and look for red flags. For example, in April 2018, an unruly passenger threw coffee at other passengers, requiring a federal air marshal to step in. The woman assaulted the air marshal before he was able to subdue her and bring her to the back of the flight with him. With the risks that come with flying, the role of an air marshal has never been more important.
Learn how you can help keep the skies safe from life-threatening behavior. Contact the schools featured in our directory to learn more today!