U.S. Marshal Career Profile

Salary, Education Requirements and Work Environment of a Deputy U.S. Marshal

U.S. Marshals
Federal marshals work with National Guard in Operation Vigilant Sample III. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Roy Henry, Public Affairs Office, Georgia Department of Defense. Gerogia Department of Defense / Georgia National Guard

They run the federal witness protection program, safeguard prisoners awaiting trial and bring fugitives to justice.  They've been glorified in movies and television shows like The Fugitive, and they were icons of the American west.  Their ranks have seen some of the most famous lawmen in history, including Virgil and Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.  They are U.S. Marshals.

The United States Marshals Service is tasked with providing enforcement for the federal court system.

 Established in 1789, the first 13 marshals were appointed to provide enforcement for the original colonies by President George Washington.  The marshals service is the oldest law enforcement agency in the country, and is now made up of 94 marshals in as many districts, with more than 3,000 deputy marshals.

What Do U.S. Marshals Do?

The U.S. Marshals Service has a long history and broad responsibilities.  Because of this, deputy marshals are involved in almost every aspect of the federal government's law enforcement activities.

Marshals are involved in the apprehension of the majority of fugitives from U.S. justice.  They protect federal judges, oversee the security of federal courthouses, conduct investigations and enforce orders of the judiciary and attorney general.

The job of a deputy U.S. marshal includes:

  • Protecting federal witnesses
  • Seizing contraband and criminal assets
  • Overseeing court security
  • Overseeing detention of prisoners awaiting trial
  • Transporting prisoners
  • Apprehending fugitives

Deputy marshals work very closely with state and local police agencies through special task forces set up to locate and capture wanted and escaped criminals.  They also respond to homeland security incidents and provide tactical support for major federal law enforcement activities.

Marshals also run the federal Witness Security Program, more commonly called witness protection, which ensures the safety of witnesses in critical and high-threat trials.  The agency boasts that no one under the protection of the program, who has followed all of the directives and guidelines, has ever been harmed.

Education And Skill Requirements for U.S. Marshals

To become a deputy U.S. marshal, candidates must be between the ages of 21 and 36 and must have a valid driver license.  Current federal employees or those candidates who are eligible for veterans preference may still be considered for employment with the marshals service if they are over the age of 36.

A bachelor's degree, 3 years relevant work experience or a combination thereof is also required. Relevant work experience includes past work in a law enforcement capacity conducting investigations, writing reports, demonstrating knowledge of law and its proper application, serving court orders, and executing warrants.

A master's degree is preferred, or at least some graduate level education, though a combination of education and work experience will be acceptable.

Candidates must be able to pass a rigorous background investigation, including an oral interview, polygraph exam and medical evaluation.

 They must also be ready and available to attend the training academy within 160 days of applying.

The hiring process for the U.S. Marshals Service can take anywhere from 9 months up to a year or even longer.  Upon appointment, candidates attend a 17-week training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.  They must be willing to move and work within any of the 94 districts upon completion of the academy, and remain at their first duty assignment for a minimum of 3 years.

Job Growth and Salary Outlook for U.S. Marshals

As the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the U.S., the marshals service will remain a vital component of the federal justice system for the foreseeable future.  The marshals service conducts hiring periodically as the needs of the agency require, depending on the number of vacancies and available funding.

 The best way to find out about available opportunities is to check the employment page of the U.S. Marshals Service website.

Deputy marshals will earn between $38,000 and $48,000 in their first year of employment, depending on the location of their first duty assignment.  After one year of service, they may be eligible for promotion and subsequent pay raises each year.

Is a Career as a Deputy U.S. Marshal Right for You?

Marshals work in a variety of locations and environments.  They are often called to deal with dangerous fugitives and to transport dangerous criminals.  The marshals have a storied history, but they also have a dangerous job.

At the same time, if you have a fondness for tradition, history and hard work, you may find a career as a deputy marshal extremely rewarding.  The marshals service is well thought of among law enforcement circles.  Working as a U.S. marshal is a fantastic career choice for those interested in law enforcement careers, especially careers with the federal government.

Want to know more? Learn all about the many great federal law enforcement careers available to people looking for jobs in criminal justice and criminology.

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