Federal air marshals' salaries are set based on an established pay scale. Therefore, the annual salary that air marshals receive partly depends on where they fall within the pay scale based on their job experience and other factors. Air marshals' assigned work locations also affect their annual pay.
Air marshals focus on exposing and stopping criminal acts by terrorists or others that target U.S. airports, aircraft, crew members and airline passengers. Air marshals also participate in protecting transportation venues other than airports when necessary, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Air Marshals’ salaries aren’t determined by the general schedule (GS) pay scale used to set other federal employees’ salaries. The TSA uses an "SV" grading system instead, which includes pay ranges assigned to letters or grades.
The TSA's salary grading system includes minimum and maximum rates at each level of the pay scale. The lowest pay grade is "A", and its associated pay range is $17,083 to $24,977. The highest pay grade is "M", and it has a pay range of $120,236 to $155,500. The TSA indicates that air marshals can be hired at the G, H or I levels, depending on how well their education, experience and skills match a job description. Among other things, air marshals need to demonstrate they have top-notch communication and problem-solving skills.
The "G" pay range is $39,358 to $60,982, and the "H" salary range is $48,007 to $74,390. Air marshals hired at the "I" pay grade receive salaries ranging from $58,495 to $90,717. None of those basic salary ranges includes locality pay, which is additional money that air marshals receive based on where the TSA sends them to work. The TSA warns applicants on its website that air marshals work long shifts without a break, so they must meet health requirements to withstand the physical demands of the job.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes air marshals in its career overview of police and detectives. The bureau predicts there will be more competition for federal and state law enforcement jobs than for jobs at local law enforcement agencies. According to the BLS, people who pursue jobs on the federal level will have more opportunities if they're bilingual and have a bachelor's degree along with several years of law enforcement or military experience.