US Marshal Career Guide

The US Marshals Service was founded in 1789 to serve the federal court. US marshals have the widest range of authority of all federal law enforcement agencies, and work in every federal law enforcement situation.

US Marshal Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

US marshals provide many services. They safeguard federal witnesses and transport federal prisoners to and from court and prison. They also protect federal judges and oversee the assets that are seized in criminal enterprises. In fact, US marshals have historically been responsible for arresting more than half of all federal fugitives.

US marshals may also be assigned to complete tactical missions within the US and are charged with asset forfeiture, which means all property and monies seized from criminals managed and gotten rid of by the US Marshals Service.

Note a Federal Air Marshal is a different career with lower requirements.

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How to Become a US Marshal: Requirements and Qualifications

To become a federal marshal, most candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in a field such as criminal justice, criminology, or law enforcement. Occasionally, an exceptional candidate will emerge that holds only a high school diploma; they may be considered if they have at least three years of related law enforcement experience.

There are other requirements an applicant must meet to become a US marshal. A strong applicant would have at least four years of command-level law enforcement management experience. He or she should have experience coordinating law enforcement agencies, and experience with protecting court officers, jurors, and witnesses. A candidate must have excellent physical fitness. The applicant’s character and reputation are carefully considered – expect a background check and polygraph.

All applicants must also meet medical qualifications, including possessing at least 20/200 uncorrected vision in both eyes, 20/40 near vision (either corrected or not corrected). A hearing test will also be administered. Candidates could face disqualification if they have such medical conditions as hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes mellitus.

US Marshal candidates must be US citizens and be at least 21 years of age and no more than 36 years old. However, the upper age limit may be waived if the candidate is a US veteran or is currently employed in law enforcement.

If a candidate meets all the requirements, he or she enters the nomination process. Because this is a federal position, attaining it involves a process within the federal government. Candidates are recommended by the senior member of Congress from the state in which there is a vacancy. The President then nominates the candidate to the Senate, who consents (or does not consent) to a four-year term of service.

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US Marshal Job Training

Newly accepted candidates must successfully complete physical exam within a maximum of six months of commencing training. Training runs for 17½ weeks and candidates are advised to arrive for training in top physical condition.

Training consists of both physical and educational components. Candidates will be expected to run up to 10 miles at a time through challenging terrain and obstacle courses. Upon completion of training, all candidates must pass a physical fitness exam to graduate.

Training will also cover a wide range of topics, including court security, defense tactics, driver training, firearms training, high threat trials, legal training, protective service training, and surveillance.

All candidates must pass seven total exams – scoring a minimum of 70 percent on each test – to graduate.

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Other Helpful Skills and Experience

The US Marshal Service values those candidates who have current or former law enforcement or military experience.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for This Career

  • Fugitive investigator
  • Judicial security
  • Witness security

Career Opportunities and Employers

Career opportunities within the US Marshal Service depend largely upon such factors as the departures and retirement of current marshals and funding. The US Marshal Service posts current employment opportunities at US Marshall Service Careers. Interested candidates are encouraged to check the organization’s career’s page regularly for newly posted openings.

US Marshal Salary and Outlook

According to the US Marshal Service webpage, positions are filled at the GL-0082-07 entry level for pay. You can find the current GL pay tables at the US Office of Personnel Management website. Salary also varies according to where in the US the marshal works.

Additional benefits include paid leave, pension, and a thrift savings plan. US marshals may retire at the 50 after having been in their position for a minimum of 20 years. Marshals have a mandatory retiring age of 57.

Current openings depend upon funding from the federal government and the number of current marshals who either leave or retire from the US Marshal Service.

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Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

How long does the hiring process take?
The US Marshal Service employs marshals when there are openings. The hiring process, which encompasses an extensive interview and background investigation, may take anywhere from nine months to a year.

Where will I work if I am hired as a US marshal?
Newly hired US marshals are assigned to a post based on the needs of the US Marshal Service and could serve in any one of 94 districts throughout the United States. All marshals must stay at their initial post for at least three years.

How long and where is training located?
Training lasts for 17½ weeks. All candidates report to the US Marshals Service Training Academy in Georgia, where they must wear uniforms during the day.

Additional Resources

US Marshals Service – The US Marshals Service Guide to Becoming a Marshal.

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Page Edited by Charles Sipe.