The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), which is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has 26 field offices throughout the United States, including one in Seattle, Washington.
Although the Federal Air Marshal Service does not generally allow new air marshals to request placement at specific field offices, it does allow them to request placement in one of the FAM’s regions. Individuals with their sights set on Washington State may therefore request placement in the FAMS’ Western Region, which includes the field offices of Seattle, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Federal air marshals in Washington may work out of any number of Washington’s primary commercial airports, including:
- Bellingham International Airport
- Friday Harbor Airport
- Tri-Cities Airport (Pasco)
- William R. Fairchild International Airport (Port Angeles)
- Pullman/Moscow Regional Airport
- King County International Airport (Seattle)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Spokane International Airport
- Walla Walla Regional Airport
- Pangborn Memorial Airport
Minimum Requirements for Air Marshal Jobs in Washington
Individuals who want to become federal air marshals in Washington must first be able to meet the agency’s minimum requirements for employment, which include being a United States citizen and being between the ages of 21 and 36.
Beyond the minimum requirements for employment, however, individuals must ensure they meet the education and/or experience requirements of the SV-G pay band, which include:
- Possessing a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
- Possessing at least 3 years of general experience that displays progressive responsibility
A specific major is not a requirement to become a federal air marshal; however, many times, individuals seeking jobs in federal law enforcement choose to pursue degree programs in:
- Criminal justice
- Criminal justice administration
- Police science
- Emergency management
- Homeland security
The Application and Employment Process
Federal air marshals must be able to:
- Perform their jobs in a highly stressful environment
- Carry out their missions with minimal supervision
- Work for long periods without a break
- Be on call 24 hours a day
- Operate a firearm and achieve and maintain firearm certification
- Maintain required physical fitness and medical standards
- Administer, coordinate and perform law enforcement, investigative, analytical, and advisory work to ensure compliance with federal laws, regulations, and other mandatory guidelines
- Participate, as needed, in multi-agency task forces and in investigative assignments that involve federal, state and local law enforcement agencies
Given the highly demanding nature of a career as a federal air marshal in Washington, it comes as no surprise that the application and employment process is just as arduous. Candidates for air marshal jobs in Washington must successfully:
- Pass a security clearance, which includes a comprehensive background investigation
- Pass a drug/alcohol screening
- Pass a medical examination
- Complete the online application, which includes answering a number of questions related to the job of a federal air marshal
- Complete the FAM Assessment Battery test, which is written test based on logic-based reasoning and situational judgment components
- Complete a panel interview
- Complete a physical training assessment (PTA), which includes the completion of pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1.5–mile run
Training Requirements for Air Marshal Jobs in Washington
All new federal air marshals must complete a mandatory course of training upon being hired by the Federal Air Marshal Service. Training for new hires is broken down into two phases: the 35-day Basic Training Program conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the 43-day air marshal training program conducted at the FAMS Training Center in Atlantic City.
Air marshals must be able to possess adequate physical strength and cardiovascular fitness to pass both phases of the training program. The daily physical training program includes:
- Strength training: Calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups
- Flexibility training: Stretching of the lower back, hip, leg, shoulders, arms and neck
- Agility training: Tactical conditioning courses
- Cardiovascular training: Short and fast running courses and long, slow running courses over flat or cross-country terrain
- Defensive measures training: Firearms retention, tactical ground defense, confrontational cuffing, throws and control holds, and weapons disarming
Individuals must also complete Practical Exercise Performance Requirements (PEPR), which are physical activities related to law enforcement tasks, and FAMTP Firearms Training Program, which includes training to become proficient in the safe handling and operation of all authorized weapons. The firearms training program is 16 weeks in length and includes about 155 hours of lectures, shooting, and practical problems.
Air Marshals in Seattle Step up their Presence for Super Bowl XLVII
Although federal air marshals complete their work in an undercover, covert fashion, every so often their job duties become public, such as in the case of Super Bowl XLVII. As hoards of Seattle Seahawk fans hit the sky on their way to the Super Bowl, the TSA let it be known that they would be deploying teams of federal air marshals, as well as behavioral detection officers, security screeners, and canine teams to handle the increased traffic at Washington airports.
In addition to their posts on the nation’s commercial aircraft, federal air marshals during this year’s Super Bowl also served the TSA in the form of TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, according to a TSA blog. The TSA noted that fans taking any type of mass transit would likely encounter VIPR teams. VIPR squads have been deployed to patrol transport hubs for the past two Super Bowl events, as well.