Home to Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey is one of the most important transportation centers in the nation. Given its proximity to the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey is also an important front in the war on terrorism. Federal air marshals are among the law enforcement agents tasked with preventing terrorism in American skies and defending American citizens, specifically the flying public, from hostile acts.
Newark Liberty International is one of three major airports to serve New York City and the surrounding area, and, in terms of number of flights, it is the busiest of the three. In 2012, Newark Airport served nearly 34 million passengers. Most Americans still remember that, on September 11, 2001, Newark was the departure airport for United Flight 93, the hijacked aircraft that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In light of this history, the Federal Air Marshal Service and its umbrella agency, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) devote considerable resources to New Jersey’s major airports.
In addition to Newark Liberty International, those airports include:
- Atlantic City International Airport, located in New Jersey’s famous resort center Atlantic City, serves more than 650,000 passengers annually.
- Trenton-Mercer Airport, located just outside Trenton, New Jersey, the state capital, serves over 100,000 passengers each year.
Requirements to Become an Air Marshal in New Jersey
Those hoping to become federal air marshals in New Jersey must be at least 21 at the time of application for the position and no older than 37 at the time of their appointment. Individuals who have already served as federal law enforcement agents in a different capacity may be exempt from the upper age limit for appointment.
Candidates for air marshal jobs in New Jersey must also meet educational and work standards as follows:
- A four-year degree in any field from an accredited college or university
- Three years of relevant work experience, with at least one year in a job that is equivalent to a federal GS-4 Grade position
- A combination of education and work experience through which the candidate develops the requisite analytical, problem solving, and communication skills
The Hiring Process and Mandatory In-Service Training
Once they establish that they meet the applicable education and work standards, candidates for air marshal positions in New Jersey must meet some additional requirements.
- Air marshal applicants must undergo a background check and obtain a top secret security clearance.
- Applicants must submit to drug and alcohol screening tests.
- Candidates must meet standards for physical strength and skill and overall health. Once appointed, air marshals must undergo quarterly fitness tests and complete exercises in which they neutralize threats within a simulated aircraft.
- The minimum requirement for handgun accuracy for the Federal Air Marshal Service is 85 percent. Therefore, air marshal candidates must have excellent marksmanship skills.
Before assuming their positions, new air marshals must undergo approximately 16 weeks of intensive training at designated residential facilities. The first half of the training takes place at a federal law enforcement academy in Artesia, New Mexico. During this initial training, candidates receive instruction in basic law enforcement techniques and general defensive tactics. Candidates then proceed to the Federal Air Marshal Training Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey for supplemental training related specifically to the performance of air marshal duties on an aircraft. This training includes, close quarters combat, disarming of attackers, and basic cockpit controls, as well as intensive marksmanship training.