In addition to having a bachelor's degree, viable U.S. air marshal candidates must be U.S. citizens, have one year of criminal investigation or aviation inspection experience and meet physical, psychological and health requirements. Finally, applicants for the position must pass a background check and panel interview.
The Transportation Security Administration, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, ensures it hires the most qualified people to serve as air marshals by considering education a high priority. The TSA considers a bachelor's degree the minimum for education, favoring those who have obtained doctoral degrees or three years of graduate education in criminal justice, police science, public administration, law or aviation management.
Prospective air marshals must be willing to travel frequently, as the job requires they fly 15 days per month and 181 days per year. They must also be precise shots, as air marshals have the highest firearm qualification standards of any law enforcement agency in the nation. They are generally regarded as the best marksmen in law enforcement.
Candidates for air marshal positions should be capable of working as part of a diverse team. Not only do U.S. air marshals work with pilots and crews, they often join efforts with multiple agencies in the course of conducting investigations.