Considered some of the best marksmen in law enforcement, air marshals patrolling West Virginia’s skies on commercial airliners are prepared for the worst. These professionals fly out of all domestic, regional and international airports, including West Virginia’s two major commercial airports:
- Yeager Airport in Charleston, with over half a million passengers passing through its corridors every year, bound for national and international destinations served by five major airlines.
- Huntington Tri-State Airport, with two major airlines offering nonstop flights to more than 100,000 outgoing passengers annually.
Candidates who are interested in careers in this field should be advised that meeting basic requirements can take time, and advanced preparations can contribute to a more competitive application.
Minimum Requirements for Air Marshals
Joining the respected ranks of the Federal Air Marshal Service is an important and often thankless job because officers do not usually reveal their identities. Applying for air marshal jobs requires candidates to meet some basic qualifications:
- Be able to pass a background check for a top secret security clearance
- Be between the ages of 21-36, unless the candidate already has experience as a federal officer
- Have excellent marksmanship abilities
- Have a bachelor’s degree, or substitute for this with either:
- Work experience of at least three years demonstrating good communication, planning, and organizational skills
- Relevant work experience combined with education
Bachelor’s degrees in subjects that are related to key skills highlighted in air marshal job requirements can contribute to a stronger case for a candidate’s hire, promotion, and salary. These include majors in:
- Law Enforcement
- Criminal Justice
- Criminal Psychology
- Police Science
Application and Training Requirements
The application process to become an air marshal is extensive and involves several steps:
- Psychological and medical evaluation
- Panel interview
- In-depth background check
- Aptitude test, including portions covering:
- Situational judgment
- Logic and reasoning
Those demonstrating the most competitive qualifications are selected for hire. Their training will span the course of 11 weeks, beginning first with 35 days of basic training and followed by 43 days of advanced training. Air marshal training places an emphasis on particularly important duties, including:
- Medical service
- Confined quarters combat
- Hostage situations
- State, federal, and international law
Working in West Virginia
Air marshals operating in West Virginia have extensive training in psychological profiling and dealing with emergency situations that can occur in the confined space of an airplane.
One recent case reflects the fact that air marshals must be ready for anything. A Southwest Airlines flight was forced to divert to Yeager Airport after a soccer ball-sized hole appeared in the fuselage mid-cabin, causing the airliner to lose pressure. Federal air marshals are specifically trained to keep passengers calm and respond appropriately in the event of cabin depressurization.
The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for both the pre-screening of airplane passengers and the Federal Air Marshal program. Despite the fact that those flying have passed the initial security screening, air marshals must be constantly vigilante for suspicious persons. TSA Agents were recently able to prevent a woman from boarding a flight at Tri-State Airport when two bottles of liquids she was attempting to bring on the aircraft twice tested positive for explosives.