How to Become a Border Patrol Agent

How to become a Border Patrol AgentA Border Patrol Agent works for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Agents protect the country’s borders from threats that include terrorism, drug smuggling, and illegal entry. Homeland Security is actively recruiting new agents and especially needs new female agents. Most vacancies are in the Southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California.

Qualifications to Become a Border Patrol Agent
$55,010
High School or GED


794,300
7%
58,700
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

In order to become an agent, you will have to meet all the following requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must be under 40 years old (exceptions apply for some veterans and for people with Federal law enforcement experience).
  • You must speak, or be able to learn to speak, fluent Spanish.
  • You must pass a background check, medical and fitness exams, and a drug test.
  • You must pass a lie-detector test.
  • You must have the required education, experience, or combination of the two.
  • You must have a driver’s license.
  • You must be able to work long hours and different shifts.
  • You must want to work outdoors.
  • You must be able to work in all weather conditions, including heat and rain.
  • You must be willing to work in the locations where you are most needed.
  • Any of the following might disqualify you: criminal convictions, an arrest record, financial problems, alcohol abuse, and selling or using illegal drugs.

Education and Experience Required to Become a Border Patrol Agent

In order to qualify for an entry-level position (GL-5), you must have one year of related experience, a BA degree, or a combination of the two.

To qualify at the GL-7 level, you will need one year of work experience with additional responsibilities, including making arrests and developing a network of informants, or a graduate degree, or an undergraduate degree with high achievement.

For the GL-9 level, the work requirement includes greater responsibility, including experience appearing as a witness in court and documenting evidence and testimony.

How to Apply

  1. Create an account at www.usajobs.com. Find Border Patrol Agent job openings by using the search box on the site. Click on “Apply Online,” and follow the instructions.
  2. Read the study guide. Register for the written exam. Take and pass the written exam.
  3. Submit a resume, transcript, and other required documents.

Challenges and Rewards

Today’s Border Patrol not only defends the borders against the entry of illegal aliens, smuggled drugs, and other contraband, but it also serves as a front-line defense against terrorism. As a Patrol Agent, you will earn the satisfaction of fulfilling an important function in promoting the safety of the United States.

Becoming a Border Patrol Agent is a challenging experience. The paid training at the Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico is said to be the most difficult law-enforcement training in the country. It takes five months to complete the Academy requirements. If you are truly committed and dedicated to becoming the best Agent you can be, you will find that what you learn at the Academy will make you grow in ways you might not have predicted.

For some positions on the United States border with Mexico, you will also need to learn to speak Spanish fluently, if you don’t already do so. Training is provided. When you successfully complete the language training, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve overcome a difficult obstacle to gain an essential skill for the job.

Annual salaries are approximately $39,000 to $63,000. There is opportunity for advancement, and you will receive federal employee benefits, You may choose to retire after 25 years on the job, or after 20 years if you are over 50, and you will receive an excellent retirement package.

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