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How to Become a US Marshal: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a U.S. marshal. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career with the U.S. Marshals Service. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a U.S.…
  • 0:55 Career Requirements
  • 1:41 Steps to Become a U.S. Marshal

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a U.S. Marshal?

Formed in 1789, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the nation. There are three types of law enforcement positions in the USMS: deputy U.S. marshal, detention enforcement officer (DEO), and aviation enforcement officer (AEO).

Deputy U.S. marshals serve a number of functions at the federal level, including protecting federal judges and courts, apprehending federal fugitives, operating the Witness Security's Program, seizing illegal property, and executing criminal and civil processes. Detention enforcement officers transport prisoners, conduct body searches, and manage and process detainees. Aviation enforcement officers have similar duties to DEOs, but transport prisoners by plane.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; 1 year of graduate work if other qualifications are not met
Degree Field Any field for bachelor's degree; law enforcement, criminal justice, sociology or related field for graduate study
Experience 3 years of related work experience for Deputy U.S. Marshals; one year for aviation and detention enforcement officers
Key Skills Ability to deal tactfully with uncooperative or hostile people, including the public and prisoners; firearm proficiency; U.S. Citizen between 21 and 36 years of age (waivers available in certain circumstances); good health; pass background check, interview, and physical fitness test; basic training required
Salary $45,371 (2016 for entry-level marshals)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the Hoboken Police Department.

U.S. marshals have bachelor's degrees along with a minimum of one year of specialized service or a combination of education and experience as required for the GL-07 level. They are expected to deal tactfully with uncooperative or hostile people, including the public and prisoners. They must be U.S. citizens between 21 and 36 years of age, although age-related waivers are available in certain circumstances, and in good health, meeting stringent physical fitness requirements and completing rigorous basic training. They must pass background checks and interviews and handle firearms with proficiency. According to the USMS website, entry-level marshals are paid at the GL-07 level, which was $45,371 in 2016.

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Steps to Become a U.S. Marshal

What steps do I need to take to become a U.S. marshal?

Step 1: Fulfill the Required Combination of Education and Experience

Individuals applying for DEO or AEO positions must have bachelor's degrees with at least one year of experience working with prisoners that involves conducting searches, transporting prisoners, and applying and removing restraints. Deputy U.S. marshal applicants must have one of the following qualifications or a combination thereof: a bachelor's degree with superior academic achievement, three years of applicable work experience, or graduate work in a related field, such as law enforcement, criminal justice, or sociology.

Applicable employment experience includes criminal investigation, use of firearms, conducting searches, writing reports, and executing warrants. Superior academic achievement provisions include one of the following: a GPA of 3.0 for all undergraduate coursework or for coursework completed within the last two years of study, a GPA of 3.5 for all courses in the student's major field of study, ranking in the upper third of one's class in the institution or major subdivision, or membership in a national honor society.

Step 2: Apply to the U.S. Marshals Service

The hiring process for the USMS takes from 9-12 months. The application process for deputy U.S. marshals involves a structured interview, assessments, and a background check. The applicant must meet physical condition requirements and not have a disqualifying medical condition. Disqualifying medical conditions may include diabetes mellitus, convulsive disorders, hernias, hypertension, heart disease, color vision deficits, and orthopedic conditions that affect mobility, stability, flexibility, and strength, among others.

Step 3: Attend and Pass Basic Training

Deputy U.S. marshal applicants must be available to attend the USMS's 21-1/2 week basic training academy within 160 days of applying. Aviation and detention enforcement officers must attend three weeks of basic training.

In addition to intense physical training and defensive tactics, students receive training in firearms, courtroom evidence and procedures, court security and surveillance, building entry and search, search and seizure, driver training, and computers. Deputy U.S. marshal candidates must pass each of 7 exams with a minimum 70% score and participate in pass/fail practical exercises that demonstrate proficiency in the concepts taught. At the end of the training, each student must pass a physical fitness test before being allowed to graduate.

You must be physically fit before you get to basic training. The training academy has rigorous physical fitness requirements, and enrollees are expected to arrive at the training facility in top physical condition. They must also be able to run distances from 1.5 to 10 miles in Georgia heat and high humidity.

Step 4: Sign the USMS Agreement

After basic training, deputy U.S. marshals are assigned to one of 94 districts throughout the lower 48 states, at which they must remain for a minimum of three years. They must sign a mobility agreement and memorandum of understanding before being assigned to a post.

Step 5: Consider Advancement Opportunities

U.S. marshals who find that fugitive apprehension is their favorite part of their work sometimes move on to even more prestigious law enforcement opportunities at the state or national level. Those who instead feel that the legal aspect of their work most interests them can obtain Juris Doctor degrees to become lawyers, thereby working more closely with the court systems. Experience with the controlled transportation of prisoners is also a valuable skill, and makes U.S. marshals attractive hiring candidates for any work that requires exceptional mettle and tact.

U.S. marshals serve a number of functions, which can include defending and protecting innocent people as well as apprehending and transporting criminal suspects. They have postgraduate education or experience, strong physical stamina, and tact when dealing with hostile situations, and they earn an entry-level salary of $45,371.

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