How to become

How to Become an Air Marshal

How to Become an Air Marshal


A career as an air marshal can be ideal for you if you enjoy traveling and are passionate about law enforcement. You can find this career to be quite gratifying because it has a great earning potential and gives you the chance to actively fight terrorism.

Finding out about the many duties of an air marshal and the measures required to pursue this job are excellent first steps in determining whether this is the right vocation for you. In this post, we go over the main responsibilities of an air marshal, how to become one, and some of the most often asked queries regarding this line of work.

An Air Marshal is what?

A federal law enforcement official known as a “Air Marshal” is in charge of defending crew members and passengers on board civil aircraft against criminal and terrorist acts. Federal Air Marshals collaborate with various investigative task forces and law enforcement organizations to complete investigations and other responsibilities.

As a physical presence and deterrent on U.S. civilian airplanes, Air Marshals are armed federal law enforcement officials who are requested to employ their investigative methods, firearms expertise, and aircraft defense tactics. These highly qualified and experienced aviation security specialists work closely with several law enforcement organizations to complete their tasks. They are a crucial component of the country’s homeland security programme.

In 2012, the Air Marshal Service, our country’s programme for securing civil aviation, commemorated 50 years of operation. The FAMS is in charge of providing security for the U.S. commercial aviation industry under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), shielding passengers and crew members from hostile acts including hijackings and other terrorist activities.

What are the duties for an air marshal?

Protecting passengers and employees on domestic and international flights is the responsibility of air marshals, specially trained, armed law enforcement agents employed by the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In addition to stopping criminal behavior in airports and during flights, they are in charge of spotting and apprehending hazardous individuals.

Their main responsibilities include identifying and stopping hostile acts against aviation, monitoring passengers on arbitrary flights for potential threats, and acting as necessary to protect the crew and passengers.

In order to maximize security, they collaborate closely with various regional and national law enforcement organizations. They also help with security for other modes of transportation, like passenger trains. They could take part in land-based terrorism investigations and multi-agency task forces.

Steps to become an Air marshal

To become an air marshal, you must complete the following basic steps

  • Get your bachelor’s degree.
  • Become experienced.
  • Satisfies TSA standards.
  • Obtain air marshal certification.

Get your bachelor’s degree

Despite the fact that three years of relevant experience is sufficient for air marshal positions, the government favors applicants with college degrees. Additionally, they might accept a mix of schooling and experience. The TSA is looking for progressively responsible general experience that demonstrates individuals’ capacity for problem-solving, work-planning and organization, and effective communication.

Having said that, a degree will be necessary if you hope to someday hold a managerial position. The competition for these positions is equally fierce, therefore graduates with a four-year degree in a subject that fosters leadership abilities may have an advantage over other applicants.

Some degrees that are appropriate for those who want to be air marshals are

  • Law enforcement
  • Law
  • Security in the home
  • Airline industry management
  • Apply for a position as a security officer

Become experienced

The Air Marshal Service favors applicants with a track record of gathering information, analyzing issues, and coming up with solutions. Additionally, they must possess strong verbal and written communication abilities.

Applying for internships or entry-level jobs is one way aspiring air marshals might gain experience. They might also think about enlisting in the army or a regional law enforcement organization. This would provide them the necessary shooting prowess and competitive edge over other applicants, especially considering that open-air marshal posts are given preference to veterans.

Satisfies TSA standards

To be eligible for air marshal posts, candidates must fulfil a number of prerequisites. When applying, they must be between the ages of 21 and 36. Unless you are a veteran, you are ineligible if you turn 37 before your training is complete. To guarantee they have no criminal records or financial delinquencies that would disqualify them, candidates must submit to a drug test and credit and criminal background checks.

Candidates must also pass tests of their physical and mental health, a panel interview, and a supervisory air marshal’s appraisal. They must also pass a polygraph test and be granted top-secret security clearance.

Obtain air marshal certification

Aspiring air marshals must take a 16-week training course after completing the application procedure. Physical conditioning, marksmanship training, and classroom teaching make up the first portion of their training regimen, which is carried out at the Federal Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico.

The Federal Air Marshal Service Training Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is where the aspiring air marshals complete their second phase of training, which consists of advanced weapons instruction. Additionally, they study defensive strategies, safety procedures for flying, and international law.

Apply for a position as a security officer

The TSA employees that most people think of when they think of the government are transportation security officers. As a security officer, you will check airport travelers and their luggage to make sure that no harmful objects or dubious individuals enter the actual airport.

In an entry-level role, a Air Marshal

at the time of appointment, has a minimum age of 21 and a maximum age of 36. (maximum age may be waived for federal law enforcement officers) & Has at least three years of general experience, of which one year corresponds to the F Band (GS-4 level), demonstrating the capacity to:

  • Consider solutions after analyzing issues
  • Plan and schedule the tasks
  • Collect data
  • Efficient written and verbal communication

possesses a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved institution or university; alternatively, possesses both education and experience.

Candidates must be able to in addition to fulfilling the minimal criteria for a Federal Air Marshal,

  • Get a top-secret security clearance and keep it
  • Exercise and push yourself physically in a significant way.
  • Pass all evaluations and assessments of your physical and medical health
  • Maintain competency with firearms
  • Complete a course in law enforcement
  • Travel frequently
  • Be available for both long-term and permanent assignments

Air marshals’ working hours

Most air marshals spend an average of five hours per day, 15 days per month, and 181 days in the air year, according to the TSA. This amounts to about 900 hours each year. Depending on the requirements of the various airlines or the TSA, the schedule for each marshal may change. For instance, more air marshals may be employed full-time to stop subsequent attacks in the event of a terrorist attack or other significant incident.

Average pay for an air marshal

The average annual salary for a Federal Air Marshal in the United States as of August 25, 2022, is $67,995. In case you need a quick pay estimator, that comes out to about $32.69 per hour. This amounts to $5,666 per month or $1,307 per week.

Tips for finding an air marshal job

A career as an air marshal might be extremely gratifying if you have a strong interest—and background—in law enforcement, especially in light of the position’s high earning potential and capacity to change the world.

Study the position

The Transportation Security Administration recruits federal air marshals. Make sure you feel prepared to assume the accompanying obligations by researching the TSA and reading evaluations.

Make sure you adhere to the rules

Background checks and rigorous testing are requirements for air marshal jobs. However, prior law enforcement experience may not be necessary; instead, enthusiasm and the capacity to pick up new abilities rapidly while being trained on the job may be more crucial. In your resume, give examples of your work ethic and capacity to pick up new abilities. Highlight how your objectives fit with the TSA’s purpose.

Create job alerts

Count on job search engines to discover TSA opportunities for air marshals. Register for daily or weekly job alert emails to receive notifications of new job postings.

Jobs as air marshals require training

After passing the interview, drug test, background check, evaluation of your mental and physical health, and polygraph exam, you will need to complete a demanding training programme before being allowed to work as an air marshal. The 16-week federal air marshal training course is held in both New Mexico and New Jersey.

Training for air marshals includes specialized instruction in:

  • Foreign legislation
  • Aviation safety
  • effective use of a firearm
  • Self-defense in close quarters
  • Understanding criminal and terrorist conduct
  • aviation medicine
  • executing swift and legal arrests
  • Surveillance
  • investigational methods

Students in an air marshal training programme will also engage in rigorous physical training every day. Strength, cardiovascular, agility, flexibility, and defensive measures training are all possible components of the physical fitness component of air marshal training.


To succeed in their role, air marshals need a specific set of abilities, such as:

Abilities to think critically

In order to address security issues, air marshals may need to think deliberately, logically, and independently. They might have to make hasty decisions that have far-reaching repercussions. Being able to react well under pressure is essential for becoming a competent air marshal.

Talents in communication

Air marshals collaborate with a wide range of individuals and organizations. Being able to communicate well is crucial for this job, whether an air marshal is reporting information from an investigation or speaking with passengers who are in danger during a flight.

Physical aptitudes

These specialists need to be physically fit, with enough strength and flexibility. In the cramped spaces of an aircraft, they might have to restrain a suspect or defend themselves.


For the majority of their operations, air marshals operate covertly. Being stealthy and avoiding detection are essential skills for an effective air marshal.


Being adaptable is essential for this job because an air marshal may need to fly at a moment’s notice or move multiple times depending on where they are needed.

Social intelligence

Air marshals are responsible for keeping an eye on passengers to deter and stop criminal and terrorist behaviour. This implies that an air marshal must constantly be able to actively and successfully identify people and situations that are suspicious.


How can I increase my air marshal salary?

Air marshals may be promoted to senior management or supervisory positions and get higher pay as they gain experience and a proven track record of accomplishment in their employment. A bachelor’s degree might also speed up the advancement process to these roles since the majority of managerial positions in the industry demand one. Prior to applying for an air marshal post, earning a bachelor’s degree can guarantee that you already possess the required qualifications.

Is becoming an air marshal a sought-after career?

Over the course of its existence, the Federal Air Marshals program’s size and scope have undergone significant change. It can be difficult to gauge the demand for this vocation because the number of air marshals who are already in service is not information that is available to the general public. In order to maintain the security of flights and airports, it’s conceivable that the TSA will eventually hire more federal air marshals as commercial flight numbers and frequencies rise.

Are Air Marshals Present on All Flights?

No, less than 1% of flights in the United States have an air marshal. The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) is unable to place an air marshal on each of the 44,000 commercial flights that take place across the country every day.

What criteria does FAMS use to select which flights to place an air marshal on?

They employ risk assessment software that evaluates the likelihood of a threat depending on the type of aircraft, the city of departure, the flight path, the cities of destination, and the amount of fuel on board.

What Marks an Air Marshal?

The usual warning indicators are late-arriving unaccompanied passengers, carry-on-only travelers, and aisle seats near the back of the aircraft. Even on lengthy journeys, they never sleep during the trip

Are the flight crew members familiar with the Air Marshal?

Yes. The cabin crew and pilots are presented to armed passengers, such as air marshals and law enforcement officials. Their identification is verified, and the crew is informed of the seat they will take. Two seats are always left vacant by airlines in case air marshals board the flight.