One of the most common questions that we get asked through our contact form is by high school students preparing to go to college who intend on eventually entering the Air Marshals service. These students want to know whether or not they should major in criminal justice to increase their odds of being accepted into the Air Marshals, but the question is far more complicated than a simple yes or no.
If you are currently a high school student or returning student looking to enter the Air Marshal’s service, I would strongly recommend re-evaluating why you are attending college in the first place. By no means is a criminal justice degree going to be a guaranteed ticket into the Air Marshals. The Air Marshals service is probably the most competitive federal appointment right now, and with the sequester and shrinking homeland security budget, it isn’t even “for sure” that the Air Marshals will exist in their current iteration by the time you graduate.
The problem with getting a criminal justice degree is that it sort of compels you into a particular career path. If you graduate with a criminal justice degree, but can’t get into the Air Marshals, you might have to look for other law enforcement careers. If you are the type of person that can’t settle for anything other than their dream job, getting a criminal justice degree could be a monumental waste of money and time if the Air Marshals are simply not hiring by the time that you graduate.
The Air Marshals service desire candidates with college degrees, but by no means do they limit their search to only criminal justice majors. Criminal Justice majors might show that they have a fundamental understanding of the job of a law enforcement officer, but the agency strives for diversity in its hiring and also values accounting, business, liberal arts, and science majors as well.
In this uncertain economy, I would highly recommend that undergraduates take majors that give them the broadest possible skill set for entry into the workforce. You can have the Air Marshal’s service as your dream job, but major in something that sets you up for alternative positions. Business and communications majors get the type of broad education that the Air Marshals value, but without restricting themselves so much to a particular career.
Finding a Criminal Justice Program
We don’t mean to discourage people from seeking criminal justice degrees by any means, we just want students to be more realistic when it comes to their career aspirations and their major choice. If you are set on a career in law enforcement, by all means major in criminal justice.
Be aware that criminal justice is a relatively difficult major with a great deal of writing. While there are services to help with criminal justice essays and tests, you will be on your own for the majority of your work during your degree program. The most valuable part of criminal justice majors is the internship option or co-op if your school has one. This will place you with an actual law enforcement agency where you will learn what really goes into the day to day operations of law enforcement and corrections.