How Do I Become An Air Marshal?

Here is the process of becoming an air marshal, which starts with the proper education and a dedication to serve the United States citizens in a professional manner.


Federal air marshals work in the Transportation Security Administration under the Department of Homeland Security. The primary mission of an air marshal is to enhance and promote security on commercial airline flights. It’s the job of the air marshal to detect, hinder and eliminate hostile acts directed against the United States.

What’s it Like to be an Air Marshal

To become an air marshal, the person must be dedicated to traveling long hours on commercial flights. The air marshal must blend in with other passengers on a plane, carry a weapon and be willing to use it in stressful situations. The marshal must rely on training to detect potential terrorist threats, always remembering that the safety of the plane and its crew and passengers are of paramount importance.

The marshal usually travels alone and must rely on investigative techniques, training, weapon proficiency, aircraft tactics and skillful self-defense techniques to protect the aircraft and carry out the air marshal mission successfully.


To become an air marshal requires training and education in the law enforcement field. First, the candidate for an air marshal position must be between the ages of 21 and 36. It’s necessary to hold a college degree in criminal justice or a closely related field of study.

A good number of colleges and universities offer degree programs in criminal justice to become an air marshal. For example, degrees are offered in criminal justice for homeland security, criminal justice in law enforcement and criminal justice for emergency management. The student may study subjects relating to criminology, crime scene investigation, forensics, psychology, computer forensics, forensic accounting, border patrol, fire science, managing emergencies, corrections, political science and public policy.

After the formal education, a candidate will undergo psychological testing, a background check and a physical fitness evaluation before being accepted into training to become an air marshal.

Formal training will commence at a federal facility. The air marshal candidate will learn about criminal profiling, investigative techniques and how to identify threats. The candidate must also become proficient in handling physical threats in confined spaces. The candidate must become familiar with weapons and demonstrate accurate marksmanship.


Candidates who successfully complete the air marshal training will be assigned to one of 21 field offices. From here, they are assigned to carry out different roles in protecting the nation’s airports and airplanes. Some marshals may be tasked to provide security for special events, such as 911 memorial services.

The TSA has stated that it doesn’t expect to expand the air marshal force in 2012. Many of these jobs will be filled by current federal law enforcement personnel moving into the air marshal field. The federal government is in the process of cutting back spending.

This news should not discourage air marshal candidates from applying. The air marshal service also needs receptionists, technical professionals, investigators and administrative support. The key to become an air marshal is to tailor the education to meet an air marshal service need.

TSA literature states that the air marshal will start at a $48,000 salary. Those with experience can earn up to $90,000.