Training to become a federal air marshal is intensive. Federal air marshals have the highest firearms qualifications among all federal law enforcement officers. It’s their job to detect and defeat any hostile acts happening aboard U.S. commercial flights. Federal air marshals devote their criminal justice career to proactively fighting terrorism and protecting passengers in the skies. Since the deadly attacks on 9/11, the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) has grown in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to employ around 4,000 marshals. Federal air marshals must have the investigative, weapon, and self-defense skills to appropriately prevent the hijacking of American aircraft. The following is a step-by-step guide displaying how you can become one of the brave federal air marshals flying for our safety.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Competition for FAMS jobs is extremely heated, so having at least a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is recommended. Federal air marshals can major in various fields, including aviation, criminal justice, law enforcement, emergency management, homeland security, and law. If possible, fill up electives with courses related to aviation business, aviation security, transportation safety, airline management, and counterterrorism. Forging ahead to graduate school for a master’s or doctoral degree isn’t required, but it can cut down the job’s required years of work experience.
Obtain Law Enforcement Experience
Holding the right degree won’t be sufficient without some previous law enforcement experience. The Federal Air Marshal Service requires candidates to have at least three years of progressively responsible experience. Build your resume by applying for security internships, taking entry-level law enforcement jobs, or joining a police academy. Many air marshals start their careers as police officers and detectives to hone their marksmanship skills. Serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and gaining military experience would also be valuable. FAMS prefers seeing past positions where you’ve shown excellent analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Meet FAMS Requirements
Before even being considered, federal air marshals must adhere to the U.S. Marshals Service requirements, according to the US Marshals Service. Air marshal jobs are reserved for United States citizens between the ages of 21 and 36. Being in excellent shape is mandatory, so you must pass physical fitness and mental health evaluations. Federal air marshals are required to complete drug testing and criminal background checks. Having any violent criminal convictions will automatically disqualify you. Candidates must be eligible for top-secret federal security clearance. Along with a panel interview, job applicants must take the FAMS Assessment Battery Test.
Pass Federal Air Marshal Training
Perhaps the hardest step to become a federal air marshal is passing FAMS training. Once you pass the application process, you’ll be sent into a two-stage, intensive training program covering at least 16 weeks. First, you’ll undergo strength, flexibility, cardiovascular, and other physical fitness training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, New Mexico. Then, you’ll head to the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for firearms, defense measures, and tactical training. This will include practical experience on a retired L-1011 aircraft, according to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation.
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Federal air marshals play a pivotal role in reducing risks to aviation safety, especially with growing threats from Isis and other terrorist cells since 9/11. Although the steps to become a federal air marshal are difficult, the journey will prepare you to effectively protecting the flying public from dangerous criminals with plans for hostile attacks.