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Protecting our borders may seem an unnecessary task to some, but in reality, a CBP agent is our first line of defense when it comes to protecting the United States and its citizens. A United States Customs and Border Protection officer is highly trained and performs a variety of duties. Not only are they on the lookout for any type of illegal activity, they are able to work with commercial carriers to ensure that all of their paperwork is in order as they move between the two countries. They work as police officers as well as customs enforcement to keep contraband and other illegal drugs out of our country. It is a fast-paced and exciting career for those who choose to pursue it.
What Is A CBP Officer?
A CBP officer takes many forms. They can work on border patrol teams along the Canadian and Mexican borders or as part of a Coast Guard team that travels along our coastlines. A customs and border protection agent is tasked with doing just what the name implies. They protect our borders from illegal immigrants, illegal drugs, and contraband that is brought into our country illegally. They work on the land, on the sea, and in the air to make sure our borders are secure and protected at all times. A CBP border patrol agent is on the go more often than they sit at a desk. It is exciting and rewarding at the same time.
What Does a Border Patrol Officer Do?
A CBP agent or patrol officer has several duties. They include:
- Verifying passports and other credentials
- Checking for contraband and other illegal items
- Finding and confiscating illegal drugs
- Preventing illegal immigrants from coming into the United States
- Halting illegal or criminal activity
- Homeland security investigations
- Arresting and detaining criminals on land, on the sea, or in the air
The list of duties is similar to that of home security agents and local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. If you are looking for a criminal justice career where you are constantly facing new challenges, working in border security is a good choice.
What Jobs Fall Under the Category of a CBP?
In addition to being a border security agent, there are other jobs that fall under the heading of United States Customs and Border Protection. They include:
- Border patrol agent
- Security guard
- Customs and border protection officer
- Transportation screening officer
- Information security officer
- Criminal investigator
Working with border officials to keep our country safe is only part of the job. As a border patrol agent, you will also work with homeland security officers and secret service agents as well. Part of effective personnel management is being able to match a new CBP officer with the job that suits them the best.
What Are the Steps You Need to Take to Become a Border Patrol Officer?
You can qualify for a CBP position using one of three ways. The first way is to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. The second way is to have at least three years of similar or relevant employment experience. Finally, you may be able to apply if you have a college degree and relevant work experience. In addition to these qualifiers, you must also meet the following requirements:
- Successfully pass a GS-9 waiver exam
- Be a United States citizen
- Under 37 years old
- A resident of the United States for at least three years
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Successfully pass a medical exam and drug test
- Pass a security background check
- Successfully pass two PFTs or physical fitness tests
- Sit for an interview with a group of current customs and border patrol agents
- Pass a polygraph test
You can visit official websites for the CBP offices and college sites to learn more about the required qualifications.
Where Can You Work as a Border Patrol Officer?
There are many locations for Border Patrol offices. San Diego, New Mexico, El Paso, and Puerto Rico are all places where border patrol agents can be found. Border agents patrol on land, in the air, and on the water. This allows them to meet each and every threat head-on. The Coast Guard extends the reach of the border patrol and helps to prevent watercraft from making their way into U.S. coastal waters. As a border patrol agent, you can work in any element you like. You will receive the training you need to succeed on land, in the air or on the water.
Average Salary of a Border Patrol Officer
Job classifications start at a GS-5 and go up to a GS-12. In 2018, an entry level border patrol agent could earn approximately $40,100 ($28,900 plus $11,210 for overtime/night differential). A GS-12 agent could earn as much as $95,400 ($63,600 plus $31,800 for overtime/night differential). If you hire in with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, you can expect to earn more than an entry-level salary. If you have served in the military or as a law enforcement officer, you will be given credit for those years of service and be hired in at a higher wage.
What Does the Future Look Like for CBP Officers?
In today’s uncertain world, protecting our borders is a top priority. Terrorist attacks, illegal drugs, criminal activity, and illegal immigrants are primary concerns for the safety of our country. A CBP officer combats human trafficking, drug smuggling, and any other type of illicit activity that affects our country. As long as these activities continue to occur, it is up to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to protect and secure our borders. CBP agents are the country’s first line of protection on land, at sea or in the air.
Controlling Illegal Drug Traffic
Illegal drug trafficking is one of the biggest problems our country faces. A large majority of the drugs that are sold in this country come across our borders. If we want to control illegal drug trafficking, we must cover all our bases. With border patrol agents on the ground and in the air, we can control much of what traffickers try to move into the United States. We must also protect our airspace. With the help of our Coast Guard and Homeland Security, we are able to limit the amount of drugs that breach our airspace.
There are instances where refugees try to enter our country to seek asylum from oppressive conditions in their homeland. In order for a refugee to be granted asylum, a process must be completed. During this process, CBP border officers may detain the refugee until arrangements can be made and the legitimacy of their claim can be verified. This process can take several weeks. It is up to the CBP to investigate the situation and relay information to the appropriate people who can either grant asylum or return the refugee to their homeland. Asylum is not something that is just offered. The need for a safe and secure home in a new country must be verified and proven. It must be shown that it is in the best interests of the refugee to remain in America.
Illegal Immigration Issues
One of the biggest problems border agents face is dealing with illegal immigrants who try to illegally enter into the United States to find a better life for themselves and their families. There are ways illegal immigrants can receive the benefits American citizens receive. They work jobs that many people don’t want and are willing to do whatever they can to stay in this country. Many resort to illegal activity. These are the issues that border patrol agents must deal with on a daily basis when it comes to illegal immigrants and the tactics they use to get across the border.
Border patrol agents are some of the most versatile law enforcement officers in the country. They work to keep our borders secure, be they in the water, on land, or in the sky. With continued training, border patrol agents are able to stay abreast of all the latest technology and state-of-the-art weaponry available to law enforcement officers. As you work upward through the ranks, you will be able to broaden your horizons and take on more responsibility. The more experience you earn, the higher your wages will be. You will also have the knowledge to make positive changes in the future. Those who stick with the CBP position can have a long and lucrative career.