Federal air marshals are the “invisible” law enforcement officers whose presence makes air travel much safer. Air marshals also work to secure the nation’s aviation infrastructure.
There are close to 100 airports in Arkansas, including four major facilities staffed by federal air marshals under the auspices of the Transportation Security Administration.
Requirements to Become an Air Marshal in Arkansas
The following are the basic requirements for air marshal jobs:
- Bachelor’s degree or better
- Three years experience in law enforcement, criminal investigations, etc.
In Addition to meeting these basic requirements:
- U.S. citizen/resident
- Not over 37 years of age
- Excellent physical condition
All candidates will be expected to successful pass the following as a precursor to employment:
- Background investigation
- Panel interview
- Suitability assessment
- Drug screening
- Medical examination
- Psychological assessment
- Physical fitness evaluation
Higher Education in Arkansas
Air marshals often hold a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field like criminal justice, homeland security or aviation management; however, a masters degree, or any graduate studies, will give the applicant an advantage in this highly competitive occupation.
Arkansas has a wide variety of top-notch educational institutions, including six public universities. Two of these university systems have campuses in four and six cities respectively. There are also approximately 20 other private and for-profit four-year colleges/universities in the state. Thirty-three Arkansas schools offer criminal justice programs from which approximately 716 students graduate each year.
Training Requirements for Air Marshals
Newly hired air marshals must complete two training programs:
- 35-days at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM
- 43 days at the Federal Air Marshal’s Training Center in Atlantic City.
The training programs include such subject matter as Investigative techniques, firearms proficiency, behavioral traits of terrorists, pertinent laws, close-quarters self-defense, aircraft specific tactics/strategies and emergency medical care. Air marshals must be in superb physical shape so considerable attention is given to physical fitness, including:
- Strength training – weights, calisthenics, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups
- Flexibility training – stretching exercises
- Agility training – tactical conditioning course
- Cardiovascular training – running
- Defense measures training – boxing, blocking/delivering blows, weapons disarming, falling, confrontational cuffing
Major Airports in Arkansas
- Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT) – located six miles east of Little Rock, LIT is by far the state’s largest airport. It had 1,097,403 passenger boardings in 2010 with an average of 50 arrivals and departures each day. LIT is served by eight major airlines and offers many national and international destinations. Formerly Little Rock National Airport (Adams Field), the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission voted in March of 2012 to rename it after the former president and secretary of state. It has three runways and a helipad. Atlanta and Dallas are the most popular destinations.
- Northwest Regional Airport (XNA) – Located 17 miles northwest of the city of Fayetteville, XNA had 549,195 passenger boardings in 2010 and an average of 113 aircraft operations daily. The two-runway airport was newly constructed in 1998.
- Fort Smith Regional Airport (KFSM) – located 3.7 miles southeast of Fort Smith, KFSM had 83,902 passenger boardings in 2010 and an average of 114 daily aircraft operations on its two runways. The airport is also home to the Fort Smith National Guard station and its air combat command unit.
- Texarkansas Regional Airport (KTSK) – located 3.7 miles northeast of Texarkansas, a town near the border with Texas, it had 26,690 passenger boardings in 2010 and averages 79 aircraft operations each day. The two-runway airport’s primary destinations are Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.