US Marshal Job Description

The U.S. Marshals Service, which has served the United States since 1789, is the oldest—and by some accounts, the most versatile—federal law enforcement agency. It serves as the enforcement arm of the federal courts and is therefore involved in nearly all federal law enforcement initiatives.

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The U.S. Marshals Service functions as the primary agency for fugitive investigations, arresting an average of 337 fugitives every day.

U.S. marshals, who are presidentially appointed, are assigned to each of the country’s 94 federal judicial districts. As of 2013, there were more than 3,900 deputy U.S. marshals and criminal investigators in this federal law enforcement agency.

The duties of the U.S. Marshals Service include:

  • Protecting the federal judiciary
  • Operating the Witness Security Program
  • Managing and selling seized assets
  • Housing and transporting federal prisoners
  • Apprehending federal fugitives

The U.S. Marshals also oversees the Threat Management Center, which provides a national response capability to review and respond to threats against the judiciary.

Careers with the US Marshals Service

U.S. marshal jobs can be organized into the following areas:

Judicial Security – U.S. marshals assigned to judicial security are responsible for protecting federal judicial officials, including judges, lawyers and jurors. Those involved in judicial security include senior inspectors, court security officers (CSOs), and special deputy marshals.

Transporting Prisoners – U.S. marshals assigned to the transportation of prisoners are part of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS), a merger between the U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. JPATS is now the largest transporter of prisoners in the world. It is responsible for transporting more than 350,000 prisoners and aliens between its air and ground systems every year.

Fugitive Operations – U.S. marshals working in fugitive operations are responsible for fugitive investigations and apprehensions. In 2010 alone, the U.S. Marshals arrested more than 36,000 federal fugitive felons. In this capacity, U.S. marshals work with local, state and federal authorities throughout 75 district fugitive task forces and 7 regional fugitive task forces.

Prisoner Operations – The U.S. Marshals oversees the detainment of more than 63,000 federal felons across the country. Prisoners under U.S. Marshals custody are detained in state, local and private facilities and Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities.

Tactical Operations – Tactical operations include special missions and response for homeland security crises and national emergencies. Within the tactical operations mission is the USMS Special Operations Group, which is a specially trained tactical unit that responds to emergency incidences anywhere in the country.

Asset Forfeiture – The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for handling seized and forfeited properties that were acquired by them through illegal activities.

Witness Security – The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for ensuring the protection and safety of witnesses who testify in federal court. They have provided protection services for more than 8,000 witnesses since 1971, which includes protecting and relocating witnesses and providing them with new identities.

How to Become a US Marshal: Job Requirements and Training

Individuals who want to learn how to become a U.S. Marshal must meet the agency’s minimum requirements, which include being a United States citizen and being between the ages of 21 and 36 at the time of appointment.  Because the minimum federal pay scale level at which U.S. marshals can be hired is the GL-7 level, candidates for U.S. marshal jobs must possess either a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or at least one year of specialized experience at the GL-5 level.

The U.S. Marshals does not recognize any specific college programs as a requirement, although many individuals seeking jobs in federal law enforcement pursue degrees in criminal justice, criminology, emergency management, and similar programs.

If candidates applying for U.S. marshal jobs cannot display a record of superior academic achievement in their undergraduate program (a minimum 3.5 GPA in major courses and a minimum 3.0 GPA in all other courses) then they must possess at least one year of graduate-level education.

The hiring process for the U.S. Marshals Service includes a structured interview, a medical examination, and a complete background investigation. From there, all new hires must complete a 17½-week training program at the United States Marshals Service Training Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. Just a few of the areas of training include:

  • Legal training
  • Firearms training
  • Defense tactics
  • Driver training
  • Court security
  • First aid
  • Physical conditioning
  • Officer survival
  • Search and seizure
  • Computer training
  • High-threat trials
  • Surveillance

All new hires should be prepared to run long distances and be engaged in strenuous exercise throughout training.  Individuals must also successfully complete 7 examinations during the training program and participate in pass/fail practice exercises.

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