Air Marshal: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Air marshals work for the federal Transportation Security Administration as plain-clothes officers on aircraft and at airports. They protect citizens by detecting and preventing criminal activity. Air marshals must be in good physical condition, accurate with a firearm, and accustomed to frequent travel.

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Job Description

Air marshals, also known as federal air marshals, work for the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and protect passengers and crews on domestic and international flights and at airports (www.tsa.gov). It is their job to identify and apprehend dangerous individuals and prevent criminal activity. They often work alone, carry a firearm, and must blend in with passengers.

Job Duties

Air marshals participate in a mandatory physical fitness program. Due to the long hours and potential risks of their work, they must maintain strength and flexibility. In the event that they need to physically restrain a passenger or protect themselves, they must be proficient in self-defense and able to respond quickly in tight quarters. They prepare for these tasks by attending a training academy prior to working in the field.

Air marshals must also be able to protect themselves and travelers using firearms. Because of the potential risk to citizens, it is crucial that they are well-trained and discreet. The TSA reported that air marshals rank among the most accurate in handguns among law enforcement officers.

Because they work in airports and on flights, air marshals spend a great deal of time traveling. They are on call at all times and may be required to relocate based on the needs of the agency. Air marshals arrest individuals who commit crimes in their presence or who have given a marshal a reason to believe that a felony has occurred. In doing so, air marshals may seek warrants, interview witnesses, and deliver information to the U.S. Attorney or other officials.

Air marshals also work with other law enforcement officers. They work in positions at various organizations such as the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center. During special events and times of concern, their assignments may be re-distributed.

Salary

The TSA uses a discrete system of pay grades. This system, known as an SV grading system, is different from the General Schedule (GS) scales used by other federal agencies. The SV system assigns a letter to each pay range, with air marshals in the G-I range. In 2012, the annual salary for air marshals ranged from $58,495 to $90,717, according to the TSA.

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