The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) is under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is headquartered in Washington, DC. Air marshals are an important element of homeland security; they work with other law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies to ensure this nation’s safety from a unique vantage aboard commercial air liners.
Air Marshal Job Requirements in Washington, DC
The first requirement is a good education. Air marshals must have either:
- A bachelor’s degree or better (no field of study is specified, but the following are the most fitting: criminal justice, law enforcement, homeland security, criminology, public safety, aviation management)
- Three years of job experience in which problem-solving, leadership and communications skills were demonstrated
Other requirements include:
- U.S. citizen not over 37 years old
- Three years experience in a job like law enforcement, criminal investigations, aviation regulations, etc.
- Good health and physically fit
Individuals who meet these requirements must successfully complete the following steps in the course of qualifying for an air marshal job:
- Medical exam/drug test
- Physical fitness test
- Thorough background investigation
- Psychological evaluation
- Suitability assessment
- Panel interview
Washington DC is home to 19 institutions of higher education, including five research, four masters and 10 special-focus schools. DC residents can also earn a degree from several accredited online schools. Post-graduate studies are an asset when applying for a highly competitive air marshal job.
Training Requirements for Air Marshal Jobs in DC
All recruits must complete the following two training programs before being given an assignment as an air marshal:
- 35-days at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM
This program focuses on basic law enforcement training, firearms proficiency and physical fitness.
- 43 days at the Federal Air Marshal’s Training Center in Atlantic City
This training focuses on specialized areas for air marshals. In addition to marksmanship and physical fitness, classroom and field training covers areas such as:
- Close quarters self-defense
- Aircraft specific strategies and tactics
- Constitutional and aviation laws
- Recognition of criminal and terrorist traits
- Emergency medical treatments
- Recognizing hidden weapons
Washington DC’s Civil Aviation System
Air marshals not only travel incognito on passenger airliners but they also secure airports. Airfields that serve Washington, DC are among the most security-critical airports in the nation. Two major airports support the nation’s capital:
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) – located 26 miles west of downtown Washington in Dulles, VA, it handles over 22 million passengers a year, making it the busiest airport in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Named for one-time Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, IAD has five runways and three terminals with 123 gates; the main terminal designed by Eero Saarinen is a famous architectural landmark. Transportation between terminals is handled by an Aero Train System (underground people mover) that is gradually replacing the longtime-used mobile loungers.
IAD served 22.6 million passengers in 2012 with a daily average of 1,000 t0 1,200 flights a day and 60,000 passengers coming from and going to 125 cities all over the world. It is a hub for United Airlines and a major port for American and JetBlue. Destinations include most major U.S. cities as well as Toronto, London, Paris, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Sao Paulo, San Salvador and Doha (Qatar).
Dulles is home to the Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum which holds aerospace artifacts that are too large for the main museum, such as the Discovery space shuttle, Enola-Gay and Air France’s Concorde.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) – located just three miles from downtown Washington, it is the closest public airport to the capital and therefore subject to the stringent top security requirements of the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone. The airport has severe perimeter limitations and cannot handle nonstop flights to any destination farther than 1,250 statute-miles away. It was called Washington National Airport until 1998 when changed to honor former President Ronald Reagan.
DCA has three runways and three terminals. It handled 18,823,094 passengers in 2011 and is a hub for U.S, Airways. There are almost hourly shuttles to New York City and Boston. It accommodates international flights to Canada as well as such domestic destinations as Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Nashville, Dallas and Omaha.