The U.S. marshals are a little like mail carriers: they're everywhere, and nothing slows them down. The U.S. Marshals Service employs nearly 5,000 people, which includes 94 marshals, one for each of the country's 94 district offices, and thousands of deputy marshals, who also have the designation of marshals. It's those deputies out in the field, protecting citizens and stopping criminals. These are elite positions, and they aren't easy to get. The beginning pay is modest, but marshals can quickly work their way into a higher bracket.
Deputy marshals perform a diverse range of law enforcement activities. Some work in judicial and courthouse safety, in which they escort defendants to court, and they also protect judges, courthouse staff and visitors. Some will work in the field of fugitive apprehension, tracking down and apprehending criminal suspects and criminals who have escaped or have evaded law enforcement. Some marshals work in prisoner transport, escorting prisoners to and from jail facilities.
Marshals also provide protection for civilians who are witnesses of crimes. These marshals guard and escort those witnesses before trials and, if necessary, arrange for them to enter the Witness Security Program, also known as witness protection. Finally, marshals oversee the seizing of assets that are the proceeds of crimes and provide operations support for many governmental bodies.
It's important to note that federal air marshals work for the Department of Transportation and are separate from the U.S. Marshals Service.
Having a bachelor's degree is a requirement for all new marshals. A candidate must also have either one year of specialized work experience, as in law enforcement, or a combination of work and graduate-level educational experience that meets the GL- 07 criteria, which are used in a number of high-level government jobs.
Candidates must meet several other criteria, too. A new marshal must be a U.S. citizen between 21 and 36 years old, have a valid driver's license, be in excellent physical condition, be able to pass a rigorous background check and be free of any disqualifying medical conditions. There are no special accommodations made for candidates with disabilities: any condition that affects a marshal's ability to perform a full range of duties is considered disqualifying.
Applicants who are admitted to the service must attend 21 and 1/2 weeks of paid, intensive basic training in Glynco, Georgia.
U.S. marshals work out of more than 350 locations throughout the U.S. and its territories. If you're accepted, you'll be assigned to a duty station in the geographical area in which you apply. New marshals must commit to staying at their first duty stations for at least three years.
Marshals often work long hours, which may include early mornings, weekends and holidays. Some travel frequently. The job requires a high level of physical fitness, so marshals also have to fit regular workouts into their busy schedules.
Years of Experience and Salary
The federal marshal salary range is modest for beginners. Deputy marshals all start out at the GL-0082-07 salary level, which started at $45,371 as of January 2016. Deputy U.S. Marshal pay also includes locality pay, an extra amount that varies depending on the cost of living in the area where a marshal is stationed.
Deputy marshals are eligible to be promoted after one year, to the GL-0082-09 level. From there they can be promoted to GS-1811-11 after another year, and then to GS-1811-12 after another year. So theoretically, a deputy marshal can be promoted to GS-12 after three years in the service. The GS-12 pay scale started at $63,600 per year, as of 2018.
Job Growth Trend
As a law enforcement arm of the U.S. government, the Marshals Service isn't known for transparency about its inner workings. The department doesn't share data that forecasts its future or its potential for growth or decline.