An Introduction to CBP Careers

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After the events of 9/11, the mission of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency of the Department of Homeland Security expanded to more than just keeping the land and sea borders of the United States secure. One of their main priorities is to prevent the entry of terrorists and terrorist weapons into the country. This they intend to do while still allowing the lawful entry of individuals and the free flow of legal trade which are crucial to the economy. Their day-to-day duties include the apprehension of those who attempt to enter the country without the proper documents; prevent the flow of smuggled goods and illegal drugs; and protect the agricultural and economic interests of the country. They also see to it that American businesses are protected from intellectual property theft; that international trade is facilitated; that import duties are collected; and that U.S. trade laws are enforced.

To do their mission successfully, the Customs and Border Protection has agents and workers who fall into two types of occupations. The first are the Frontline Law Enforcement and Mission Critical Occupations. Border Patrol Agents, CBP Officers, Air and Marine Interdiction Agents, and CBP Agriculture Specialists belong in this category. Employees who serve in CBP revenue positions are also classified as working in the frontlines. 

Border Patrol Agents are tasked with protecting the 1,900 miles of our land border with Mexico and the 5,000 miles of our border with Canada. There are currently 20,000 Border Patrol Agents who do this job. Another 20,000 CBP Officers are assigned in the more than 300 ports of entry all over the United States. Their main task is to screen passengers and cargo to ensure that only those that are legally allowed to enter the country can do so. Close to 1,000 Air and Marine Interdiction Agents see to it that people, weapons, narcotics, and vehicles cannot illegally enter the United States through its airways and waterways. They are specially trained for this task and use high-tech equipment to carry out their activities. Averting the entry of anthrax and other bioweapons falls on the shoulders of the CBP’s more than 2,200 CBP Agriculture Specialists. They also prevent agro-terrorism and work to prevent the spread of harmful pests and plant and animal diseases. If allowed to enter the U.S., these could harm farms and negatively affect our food supply. Completing the list of frontline positions are those held by import specialists, auditors, international trade specialists, and textile analysts. Called CBP revenue positions, there are more than 2,500 employees who work in these capacities to collect more than $30 billion each year in entry duties and taxes by enforcing trade and tariff laws. By seeing to it that the legal fees and taxes are collected, they give the U.S. government the second largest source of revenues.

The second category of the CBP workforce is the Operational and Mission Support Positions. There are around 8,000 employees who work in these areas. If the frontliners are the main actors or the ones that are easily seen in public view, Operational Support and Mission Support workers do their job behind the scenes. They are the intelligence research specialists, the sector enforcement specialists, the paralegals, the CBP technicians, IT specialists, management analysts, contract specialists, human resource specialists, mission support specialists, mechanics, budget analysts, purchasing agents, and security specialists. Without them, the CBP frontliners would not be able to perform their jobs successfully.

Whether you want to work in the frontlines or contribute to keeping the United States a safer place to live in by putting your expertise to work behind the scenes, you can find out about the job opportunities in the Customs and Border Protection agency by doing a search in the USAJOBs (www.usajobs.gov) website.