At 38,000 feet in the air help can seem far away. However since the September 11th attacks, the Federal Air Marshal Service has expanded more than one hundred fold. They now strategically cover hundreds of flights crisscrossing the country on a daily basis, including those taking off and landing from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Last year this facility saw more than 9.2 million transiting passengers in its hallways.
Given the history of a plane being hijacked and used to attack our nation’s capital less than 200 miles from North Carolina – and just over 20 minutes away at an airplane’s cruising speed – air marshals in the state are on alert.
Minimum Requirements to Become a Federal Air Marshal in North Carolina
Qualifying for federal air marshal jobs in North Carolina involves the same process as anywhere else in the country, and candidates with relevant education are encouraged to apply. A bachelor’s degree in any of the following subjects can provide a competitive edge, a reason for promotion, and contribute to being hired at a higher wage level:
- Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Constitutional Law
- Federal Law
- Police Science
If candidates do not have a bachelor degree, they may also qualify by having three years of experience in a position that demonstrates key skills such as problem analysis and organization, or a combination of both education and experience. Desirable air marshal traits can be found in the TSA Competency Catalog. US citizens are eligible to apply for air marshal positions if they are between the ages of 21-36, with some exceptions for federal officers and veterans.
Air Marshal Application Process
Besides meeting the basic education requirements, candidates researching how to become an air marshal will also be interested in the application and training requirements. These are listed in federal air marshal job announcements through the TSA on the federal employment website. Prospective marshals can apply when there is an opening, and as part of the application will need to complete:
- Physical agility and firearms tests
- Panel interview
- Background investigation
- Psychological and medical assessment
- Air Marshal Assessment Battery Test
Air marshal job requirements strictly mandate good marksmanship skills. It is advisable that candidates develop this skill prior to applying.
The Federal Law Enforcement Center
After making it through the stringent hiring and evaluation process, new federal air marshals will need to complete 78 days of training, broken up over two courses. For the first 35 days new marshals will train at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Artesia, New Mexico. The remainder of training is spent at the Federal Air Marshal Service Training Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Instruction topics include:
- Federal and state law
- Firearms training and marksmanship
- Emergency medical treatment
- Physical fitness
- Scenario trials, including hostage and sudden decompression situations
As part of the rigid marksmanship requirements, air marshals need to re-qualify on their firearm certification every four months, and may choose to maintain membership at a local range in North Carolina and complete available training with agencies such as the Charlotte or Greensboro Police Departments.