Federal air marshals, who serve an integral role in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Federal Air Marshal Service, are the federal law enforcement professionals in the sky. Deployed on flights across the globe, federal air marshals use their skills to protect air passengers and crew members against terrorist or criminal acts.
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Due to the highly critical role these federal law enforcements play within our nation’s war on terror and homeland security initiatives, minimum requirements and qualifications for federal air marshal jobs are strict and well-defined.
Federal Air Marshal Service Degree Requirements and Relevant Majors
To qualify for federal air marshal jobs, candidates must be able to meet the minimum educational and/or experiential requirements of the level at which they are applying:
- FV-G level: Must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; or at least three years of general job experience that shows a progression in responsibility; or a combination of education and experience
- FV-H level: Must possess a doctoral degree from an accredited college or university; or at least three academic years of graduate education in police science, law, criminal justice, public administration, or aviation management; or at least one year of specialized experience at the FV-G level
Although specific requirements for undergraduate degree programs are not outlined for federal air marshal jobs, some of the most common degrees pursued by candidates for these federal law enforcement careers include:
- Criminal justice
- Homeland security
Criminal Justice Degree Programs and Courses
Criminal justice programs may be found in Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts programs, with concentrations in such areas as criminal justice administration, homeland security or forensic social justice. A criminal justice bachelor’s degree prepares students to work in fields that address crime as it relates to individuals, communities, and society. As such, a criminal justice degree equips graduates to work in any number of fields, including federal law enforcement. Special topics in criminal justice bachelor’s degrees often include terrorism response, criminal investigation, security, forensics, and transportation security.
Typical core courses within a criminal justice degree program include:
- Criminal justice system
- Criminal law and procedures
- Punishment, prisons and corrections
- Courts and criminal justice
- Constitutional law and criminal justice
- Research methods in criminal justice
- Criminal investigations
- Ethics and diversity in criminal justice
Homeland Security Degree Programs and Courses
Homeland security bachelor’s degrees, although still relatively new to many criminal justice programs and schools, are gaining in popularity as the nation shifts its criminal justice focus to an international scale. As such, a homeland security degree provides an education that addresses the needs of the U.S. government and its citizens, which makes it an ideal choice for many individuals pursuing careers as federal air marshals. Students within a homeland security bachelor’s program can expect to combine a number of general education requirements with a solid core in homeland security courses.
Many homeland security degree programs also allow students to specialize their homeland security degree by concentrating their degrees in specific areas, such as emergency management, terrorism studies, or cyber security.
Core courses within a homeland security degree are generally focused on:
- Law and policy
- Critical infrastructure
- Emergency management
- Strategic planning
- Terrorism studies
- Risk analysis
- Environmental security
- Emergency management
Criminology Degree Programs and Courses
A popular program of study for many individuals interested in federal air marshal jobs is criminology, which provides study in the social, political, and environmental factors that drive crime. Criminology degrees differ from criminal justice degrees, in that their focus is usually on criminal behavior and its causes and impact on society, whereas criminal justice degrees focus in policing and law enforcement. Criminology degrees are also designed to prepare students for graduate studies.
The core courses within a criminology bachelor’s degree program include:
- Theories of crime
- Criminal law
- Criminal justice policy
- Research methods in criminology and criminal justice
- Statistical analysis in criminology and criminal justice
- Comparative criminology and criminal justice
- Gender, crime, and justice
- Race, crime and justice
Sociology Degree Programs and Courses
Sociology is a common undergraduate degree pursued by individuals interested in federal law enforcement fields such as in the Federal Air Marshal Service, as it provides a solid foundation for understanding human social behavior. Further, many institutions now offer combined programs in sociology and criminal justice, thereby allowing students to focus their studies on modern social issues in the criminal justice system.
A sociology bachelor’s degree program with a focus on criminal justice or a combined sociology/criminal justice bachelor’s degree prepares students by offering a moral, philosophical, and scientific base in sociology when presented with criminal justice topics.
As such, the foundation n of this type of program typically includes both sociology and criminal justice courses:
- Introduction to sociology
- Social theory
- Statistics and research design
- Introduction to the criminal justice system
- Law enforcement and society
- Law, courts, and justice