Federal Air Marshals (FAM): Full Hiring Process Guide

Looking to be accepted as a worker at the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) as a Federal Air Marshal? This page will help you gain a deeper understanding of the FAM hiring process. It includes a detailed guide discussing the benefits of being a FAM, the main functions of the job, and the process of hiring.

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What Is the Duty of A Federal Air Marshal?

The main duty of Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) is to identify, prevent and stop hostile activities that could occur during a flight. As with any other law enforcement officers, they must be armed to ensure the safety of the passengers on the plane.

The job requires them to work alone in highly stressful conditions without assistance.

In addition to their basic duties, federal air marshals could be required to:

  • Managing and coordinating law enforcement investigations.
  • Arresting citizens without a warrant for any offense that they believe will endanger the United States.
  • Seizure of evidence of a violation on probable cause.
  • Identifying witnesses and suspects and interviewing them.
  • Providing information about law enforcement activities to the designated U.S. Attorney.

In the past few years, the job has expanded to include staffing positions at several agencies, including the National Counterterrorism Center, the National Targeting Center, and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

Among all law enforcement agencies, air marshals have the highest firearm qualification standards, ensuring that they are considered among the best marksmen.

The TSA estimates that federal air marshals fly 15 times a month and 900 hours per year.

The Benefits of Being a Federal Air Marshal

An annual salary for homeland security Federal Air Marshals can range from $46,950 to $82,417.

Moreover, Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) is available to cover unscheduled duty beyond a basic workweek.

It is required that Federal Air Marshals work or be available to work an average of two extra hours per non-excludable workday.

A position as a FAM comes with many other benefits, including:

Health – As a FAM, you will receive lower rates on dental and healthcare and will be able to enroll in certain programs without having to declare pre-existing conditions.

Retirement – The retirement benefit is a three-tiered benefit program comprising the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Participating in these programs to the fullest extent possible will ensure a financially secure retirement.

The FAM retirement program consists of three parts:

  1. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
  2. Social Security.
  3. Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

Insurance coverage

Insurance coverage is provided by The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program which is offered to the newly hired FAM and his family.

Once hired as an employee by the TSA you immediately signed up for a basic insurance plan valued at the level of your salary plus an additional 2000 dollars.

You also have the option to sign up for the advanced coverage program which could compensate you as much as 5 times your basic salary.

Other benefits include joining the thrift savings plan(TSP), a FLEX spending account that helps you save money for healthcare expenses, annual sick and leave days, and extra pay for overtime and holidays.

Also, Federal Air Marshal TSA workers are given continuous training and development courses that increase their professional capabilities.

Federal Air Marshal Hiring Process

There are 7 steps to the Federal Air Marshal Hiring Process:

  1. Online application.
  2. Assessment Test.
  3. Interview.
  4. Physical training assessment.
  5. Comprehensive Background check.
  6. Medical Examination.
  7. The Federal Air Marshal Training Program (FAMTP).

Online Application

The first step is to go to the site usajobs.gov to search for relevant positions. When submitting an application be sure to correctly state all the relevant experience in your resume and any additional required documents.

After submission, your application will be checked to see if you meet the basic FAM requirements.

Some of the requirements are:

  1. Being a US citizen.
  2. Age: 21-37 years old.
  3. Having a valid driver’s license.
  4. Being in good physical condition.

Assessment Test

After going through the background check, you’ll be invited to take an assessment screening test that includes a written FAM and a Physical examination.

The written test consists of three parts: Logic Based Aptitude Test, a multiple choice Writing test that examines your grammar and vocabulary, and a Situational Judgment Test that assesses your decision-making skills and personality.

The path to becoming a Federal Air Marshal is rigorous, and the FAMS Assessment Battery Test (FAB) is a crucial step on that journey.

But with the proper preparation, you can not only pass the test with flying colors but also ace the panel interview and physical training assessment that follows. And the key to your success lies in one thing – accurate practice. Don’t let this opportunity slip away.

Start preparing now and unlock the doors to your future as a Federal Air Marshal.


If you have managed to get a high enough score in the assessment you will be invited to an interview panel.

The interview will be done in a local office close to your geographical leaving area and will include questions that will examine your behavior.

Some questions will require you to describe situations from past experiences that can demonstrate specific skills and personal strengths.

Physical Training Assessment

Every candidate to the FAM must undergo a physical test called the physical training assessment or the PTA.

The goal of the test is to make sure that all sky marshal candidates have the necessary physical skills to handle the rigorous fitness regimen of the FAMTP.

The PTA is overseen by the Physical fitness coordinator or the PFC and you will be tested on your ability to do:

  1. Pull-ups.
  2. Sit-ups.
  3. Push-ups.
  4. 1.5 mile run.

Comprehensive Background Check

The last step requires you to go through a comprehensive background check. The check is done in the form of an interview.

You will be invited to the Federal Air Marshal office(FAMS) closest to your home and will be asked a bunch of questions about your personal and professional history.

There are a few strategies that the interviewer may use to verify your answers. He could ask you to take a lie detector test or provide him with a list of former employers, relatives, and friends to reach out to.

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) invests thousands of dollars in each of these background checks, ensuring that they are done thoroughly.

Medical Examination

Passing the background check is not the final step of the screening process; at this point you’re very close to being accepted as an FAM worker and you may receive a conditional job offer.

As part of your medical examination you will be tested for drugs, so make sure every medication you take has a prescription.

The Federal Air Marshal Training Program (FAMTP)

Congratulations! You have passed all the screening tests and are on your way to the training facilities in New Mexico and the FAMS training academy in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for a 14-week course.

The goal of the course is to skill you in the following courses:

  • FAMTP Firearms Training Program.
  • Practical Exercise Performance Requirements (PEPR).
  • The Federal Air Marshal Service Practical Pistol Course (PPC).

Taking the federal air marshal training starts the clock on a two-year probation period and it also means you have committed to a minimum of 5 years on the job.