Major airlines operate long-distance national and international flights out of the Bismarck Airport. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, it is widely known that terrorists could use commercial airliners from any location in the country to attack vital targets in the United States.
Unfortunately airliner hijackings are almost as old as commercial aviation itself, and many times the only thing that stands between a would-be hijacker and the cockpit is a federal air marshal. With the increased awareness of domestic hijackings after the 9/11 attacks, each federal air marshal patrols the skies an average of 900 hours a year, protecting passengers and potential targets across the country, including critical infrastructure targets like the gas and oil wells of North Dakota.
Air Marshal Requirements in North Dakota
The process to become an air marshal in North Dakota is the same throughout the nation, as these professionals ultimately fall under the federal auspices of the Department of Homeland Security.
One of the most important requirements for air marshal jobs is education and experience. Although three years of work experience demonstrating critical skills may be substituted for this, a bachelor’s degree in any of the following subjects will prepare marshals for promotion, increase their competitiveness, and demonstrate the ability to make a commitment.
A combination of education and experience may also be substituted for the bachelor’s degree requirement:
- Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Constitutional Law
- Police Science
- Federal Law
Other key air marshal job requirements include:
- Being between the ages of 21-36, with some exceptions for federal officers and veterans
- Having excellent marksmanship abilities
- Being a US citizen
Submitting an Application and Qualifying for Air Marshal Training
Prospective federal air marshals will need to monitor TSA job postings on the government’s main website for posting job vacancies. Along with the application, candidates will also need to be able to complete the following as part of the application process:
- Air Marshal Assessment Battery Test
- Firearms and physical agility tests
- Background investigation
- Panel interview
Training requirements for air marshals who make it through the hiring process will include the completion of two courses:
- Basic Federal Air Marshal Training, lasting 35 days at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico
- Advanced training at the Federal Air Marshal Training Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey totaling 43 days
At these facilities, air marshals learn and develop critical skills, such as:
- Hostage negotiations
- Close quarters combat
- Defensive tactics
- Behavioral observation
- Police techniques
- Medical first aid
- Sig Sauer P229 firearm training targeting specifically the torso and head
Federal air marshals in North Dakota interact with state and local law enforcement agencies under the auspices of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and the Department of Homeland Security. Air marshals can participate in law enforcement collaborations such as the North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center in Bismarck and the North Dakota Joint Terrorism Task Force in Fargo.