Located within a few minutes’ flying time to the nation’s heart of government and military power, Virginia’s air marshals operate with a unique level of urgency. The last time a target in Virginia was attacked with a hijacked aircraft was on September 11th, 2001 – Virginia’s air marshals are determined to prevent this from ever happening again.
Air marshals can operate out of any of the state’s major airports:
- Washington Dulles International Airport, the largest airport in the DC metro area. More than 60,000 people pass through the facility on a given day and in the last decade yearly passenger averages have remained above 22 million.
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a US Airways hub which last year saw 19.65 million passengers transit through its premises.
- Norfolk International Airport, which annually serves more than three million passengers with four major airline companies operating flights to and from the facility.
- Richmond International Airport, also handling around three million passengers each year with seven major airlines.
- Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, with 315,877 passenger debarkations last year.
- Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, serving over one million passengers annually with destinations as far south as Orlando and as far west as Denver.
Researching how to become an air marshal in Virginia is particularly important to ensure candidates are prepared to protect the high value structural and political targets located in the state’s vicinity.
Education and Experience Requirements
Having a strong educational foundation can demonstrate a candidate’s overall aptitude and preparedness to meet the air marshal job requirements. Having a bachelor’s degree in any subject is considered a general requirement. Majoring in one of these areas can hasten promotional opportunities by providing job-critical skills:
- Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Criminal Psychology
Three years of experience demonstrating skill in planning, organization, and communication, or a combination of experience and education can be substituted for a bachelor’s degree.
Completing the Application and Training Process
The training requirements to become an air marshal include the mandatory completion of two intensive courses. The first of these is basic training which takes place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in New Mexico. Lasting five weeks, this course is subsequently followed by a 43-day advanced training course at the Federal Air Marshal Service Training Center in New Jersey. Air marshals receive comprehensive instruction in:
- Medical procedures and first aid
- Close quarters combat
- Marksmanship with a Sig Sauer P229 pistol
- Psychological profiling
- Physical training
The application process for air marshal jobs is a multi-step procedure that involves:
- Panel interview
- Air Marshal Assessment Battery Test
- Medical and psychological evaluation
- Background check for a top secret clearance
- Meeting some basic qualifications:
- US citizenship
- Being between the ages of 21-36, with some exceptions for federal officers
Working as a Federal Air Marshal in Virginia
In addition to protecting air travel and high value targets in Virginia, air marshals operating in the state are always cognizant of their proximity to the nation’s capital. Air marshals are especially alert on take offs and landings at Reagan International because of its close proximity to the White House. Until 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, air marshals were instructed to subdue any passengers who stood up 30 minutes from the DC area.
In a recent case, air marshals were forced to subdue an unruly passenger while flying over Virginia en route to Baltimore. The intoxicated passenger was tackled in the aisles of the airliner after he assaulted the person sitting next to him and proceeded to attempt to punch one of two air marshals responding to the disturbance. Training for air marshal jobs in Virginia covers everything from disorderly passengers to armed terrorists.