Most travelers will never know they’re there, but among the passengers on commercial air flights are federal air marshals whose job it is to keep the skies safe. These federal law enforcement officers are highly trained to detect and prevent hostile acts that may take place on U.S. passenger planes. In addition to providing security aboard airliners, air marshals also coordinate the security operations needed to protect the national transportation infrastructure. The state of Arizona has almost 100 airports, including three that offer international flights.
Requirements for Becoming an Air Marshal in Arizona
Although it is not listed as a requirement, anyone who wants to become a federal air marshal should love to fly. Air marshals spend an average of 15 days a month, or 900 hours a year, in the air. However, they are not there to enjoy the view. Air marshals are constantly on alert, unobtrusively observing everyone and everything on the plane.
The following are the official requirements for federal air marshal jobs:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college/university
- Three years related experience, such as in law enforcement or criminal investigations
- Citizen and resident of the United States
- Under the age of 37
- Excellent physical condition
Individuals whose applications are accepted will be required to successfully pass the following:
- Background investigation
- Panel interview
- Suitability assessment
- Drug screening
- Medical examination
- Psychological assessment
- Physical fitness evaluation
There is intense competition for federal air marshal jobs, and the more education an applicant has beyond a bachelor’s degree the better. Persons who have earned a graduate degree in a field like homeland security, aviation management, criminal justice, etc. will have a definite edge for being tired as well as for advancement into management and a higher salary.
Arizona has four public universities that offer bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees as well as eight private colleges/universities and over a dozen for-profit institutions. Arizonans can also earn a degree from one of several accredited online schools.
Training Requirements for Air Marshal Jobs in Arizona
Air marshal recruits are required to complete two training programs: 35-days at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM and 43 days at the Federal Air Marshal’s Training Center in Atlantic City, NJ. A great deal of time is spent on firearms training because air marshals are known for their exceptional marksmanship. Other courses include:
- Investigative techniques
- Constitutional law
- Criminal/terrorist behavior recognition
- Aircraft strategies
- Close-quarter self-defense
- Physical fitness
- Emergency medical treatments
Air Marshal Serviced Airports in Arizona
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – located three miles southeast of downtown Phoenix, PHX is one of the 10 busiest airports in the nation with 18,907,171 passenger boardings in 2010. Every day the four terminals and three runways handle an average of 1,200 arrivals and departures, 100,000 passengers and 800 tons of cargo. It is estimated that PHX has a $79 million daily economic impact.
- Tucson International Airport (TUS) – located eight miles from downtown Tucson, TUS had 1,844,228 passenger boardings in 2010. Both a public and military facility, TUS is 71 miles from Mexico. It has three runways and an estimated economic impact of $3.2 billion.
- Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) – located in southeast Mesa, it was originally intended as a relief airport for PHX but now has an average of 469 aircraft operations a day. AZA had 417,862 passenger boardings in 2010 and its three runways are also a center for flight training schools because of the excellent flying weather in the Phoenix Valley.
- Yuma International Airport (YUM) – located in the southwest corner of Arizona just 63 miles from the Mexican border, YUM had 82,163 passenger boardings in 2010 and an average of 375 aircraft operations daily. Most passenger flights are to either Phoenix or Los Angeles. YUM shares its four runways with the US Marine Corps Air Station.
- Grand Canyon National Park Airport (GCN) – located seven miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s primary tourist attraction, GCN had 318,622 passenger boardings in 2010. Its single runway is also the center for several companies offering helicopter and small plane scenic tours.