U.S. Marshal Job Description: What You'll Do

Here's What You'll Do in a Career in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Students interested in pursuing careers as U.S. marshals may consider criminal justice degrees, which will provide them with the skills and educational background necessary to succeed. To gain a solid foundation of the field, students can begin their careers by pursuing an associate program in criminal justice. Then, they can advance into bachelor's and master's programs to meet the preferred job qualifications of a U.S. marshal.

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a U.S. Marshal?

U.S. marshals maintain the broadest jurisdiction of any U.S. federal agency. They work to facilitate and protect the successful operation of the federal judiciary system. U.S. marshals apprehend and arrest fugitives as they work with local, state, and federal authorities. They also manage and transport prisoners between correctional facilities, foreign countries, and judicial districts. Finally, U.S. marshals sell and manage assets, including property seized and forfeited by U.S. attorneys and law enforcement agencies.

U.S. marshals maintain the broadest jurisdiction of any U.S. federal agency.

U.S. marshals are often responsible for protecting federal judicial officials including attorneys, judges, and jurors. They arrest more federal fugitives than any other type of law enforcement, and they extradite foreign fugitives. Marshals also supervise the housing of pre-sentenced prisoners and protect state witnesses who testify for the government in cases related to organized crime and other significant criminal activities.

U.S. Marshal Education Requirements

Individuals must hold a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or law enforcement to become a U.S. marshal, although most employers prefer candidates with an advanced degree, especially for more specialized roles.

Students can begin their education by pursuing an associate program in criminal justice or law enforcement, providing them with a foundation of the field. Bachelor's degrees allow students to gain more experience and knowledge, while master's degrees enable students to gain an expert understanding of the field.

Individuals must hold a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or law enforcement to become a U.S. marshal, although most employers prefer candidates with an advanced degree, especially for more specialized roles.

Law enforcement programs teach students about laws and the enforcement of them. Students in these programs also learn how to maintain public order and punish crime accordingly. Policing encompasses voluntary adherence from the community while law enforcement emphasizes compulsory compliance. Students should understand how to enforce law in order to engage the community appropriately and not create a negative stigma of law enforcement.

Associate Degrees

Students can begin their U.S. marshal journey by earning an associate degree in criminal justice. Upon graduation, students can elect to transfer their associate credits to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor's degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. At the associate level, students graduate with a solid background in criminal justice and law enforcement.

Associate programs typically cost around $30,000, comprise 60-64 credits, and take two years to complete. Coursework covers juvenile justice, judicial process, and correctional systems. Students can refer to our associate degree in criminal justice page for more information.

Bachelor's Degrees

Students can pursue a bachelor's degree in law enforcement or criminal justice to prepare for a career as a U.S. marshal. At the bachelor's level, students develop their investigative skills and learn theoretical concepts as related to law enforcement. Students focus on criminal behavior, criminal justice ethics, and law and criminal procedure.

Bachelor's programs usually comprise 120 credits, take about four years to complete, and cost around $35,000 in tuition. Graduates can pursue careers as police officers, police detectives, and private investigators. Students can explore our bachelor's in criminal justice page for more information about the degree.

Master's Degrees

Master's degrees in criminal justice or law enforcement emphasize statistics, administration, and crime prevention. Many master's programs feature concentrations -- e.g., public administration, cybercrime, homeland security, forensics -- so students can tailor the degree to their career goals and personal interests. Coursework in a master's program explores cybercrime, policing in society, and forensic science. Master's programs often end with an internship, capstone project, or thesis.

Master's programs usually require 33-36 credits of coursework and take two years to complete. Graduates with this degree can work as U.S. marshals, border patrol agents, and FBI agents. Students can review our master's in criminal justice page for more information regarding the degree opportunities.

Other Requirements for U.S. Marshals

Aspiring U.S. Marshals must meet several non-academic requirements before entering the profession. For example, they must fall between the ages 21-36, be hired before their 37th birthday, be in excellent physical condition, and possess 20/20 binocular vision or better in each eye (eye surgery to correct vision can often disqualify applicants). Applicants must also pass a hearing test, complete basic training, maintain valid employment eligibility, have a valid driver's license, boast a clean criminal record and background investigation, and preferably hold specialized or military experience.

Qualities That Make a Great U.S. Marshal

U.S. marshal job descriptions typically outline the professional and educational requirements applicants must meet before applying. Many also highlight personal qualities applicants should possess, such as an ability to remain calm and patient in stressful situations. Here are other personality traits generally required of a U.S. marshal:

  • Reserved
  • Ethical
  • Detail-oriented
  • Communicative
  • Coolheaded
  • Responsible
  • Adaptable
  • Knowledgeable

Want to Learn More?

U.S. Marshal Salary Information Careers in Criminal Justice Online Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement