Air Marshals are the law enforcement officers of the skies. They detect, deter, and defeat hostile acts that target U.S. air crafts, passengers, and crew members. Much of their time is spent sitting idly in airplanes, blending in with the crowd, ready to jump into action should the need arise. Of course, becoming the law enforcement of the skies is no easy task. The job requires a special type of individual and the hiring process goes to great lengths to select the best from the pool of candidates. So what does this mean? It means every candidate will be extensively scrutinized and examined, and those lucky enough to meet the standards set by the Federal Air Marshal Service will then have to submit themselves to rigorous training.
The hiring process begins the moment a candidate submits an application to the Federal Air Marshal Service. But to stand the slightest chance of being called in for an interview the candidate must meet the eligibility requirements of the Federal Air Marshal Service. As with most law enforcement agencies, the candidate must be between the ages of 21 and 36 when they apply for the position (must not turn 37 before being officially instated), must be a U.S. citizen, must have a clean criminal record, must have a clean financial record, and must have at least a bachelor’s degree or three years of prior federal civilian law enforcement experience. Those candidates with degrees, especially those with degrees in criminology and other similar degrees are given preference over those who lack a degree.
Those candidates who the agency expresses a wish to hire will be brought in for an interview, after which they’ll be put through a series of tests. They’ll have to take and pass a urine drug test, a psychological evaluation, a fitness test, a polygraph test, and a medical examination. The agency will also conduct a thorough background check on the candidates to verify that all the information given by the candidates is, in fact, accurate.
Those who pass the initial stage of the hiring process will then spend the next 16 weeks receiving training. The training program is separated into two components: a 35-day basic training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, New Mexico and a 43-day training program at the Federal Air Marshal Service Training Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During this time, they’ll receive strength training, flexibility training, agility training, cardiovascular training, defensive tactics training, aircraft tactical training, and firearms training. Those who graduate from the training program are officially appointed as Air Marshals and it takes about three to four years to achieve this status. That’s 3-4 years to receive a degree or relevant experience and 16 weeks to graduate from the training program.