Becoming an Intelligence Research Specialist for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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If you want to work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection but don’t want to hold a demanding frontline position such as that of a Border Patrol Agent or an Air and Marine Interdiction Agent, then perhaps you might considering becoming an Intelligence Research Specialist. In this position, you won’t be working on the field but will be greatly supporting the work of agents to help combat terrorism, drug trafficking, human smuggling, and trade violations. By doing research and intelligence work, you will be doing a very vital role in keeping the United States safe. 

Intelligence Research Specialists must hold United States Citizenship, fulfill the primary residency criteria, pass the background investigation, and drug testing to qualify for this position. The background investigation will cover your activities in the past 10 years. Arrests, convictions, dismissals from previous jobs, outstanding debts or financial issues, use of alcohol and illegal drugs, and involvement with the sale and distribution of illegal drugs may disqualify you for the position.  

To become an Intelligence Research Specialist, you need critical thinking and research skills. You also need to have strong communications skills. If you have experience in law enforcement, military, or have worked in an Intelligence Community environment, you can qualify for this position. If you don’t have this kind of experience, then general study in a course specializing in foreign affairs/international relations (especially with a focus in Security Studies) can also help you qualify for this post. 

The hiring process involves a four-step process of application; selection; pre-employment; and final selection. The first step is applying for the vacancy which can be found in the USAJOBS (www.usajobs.gov) website. Be sure to read the vacancy announcement carefully, follow all instructions to apply, and complete the entire application package before sending your application.

In the selection process, your application will then be rated by the CBP hiring committee. Your education and/or experience will be given a rating. Veterans will be given additional veterans’ preference points if they qualify. If you make it to the eligibility list, you will be called for an interview. A background check of your professional and/or educational references will be done and if you pass all these, you will be given a conditional offer of employment contingent on your successful completion of the pre-employment requirements.

The third stage is the pre-employment. A more extensive background check will be done. You will also be given a schedule for the required drug test which CBP will pay for. An important component in this step is your ability to obtain and maintain a Top Secret Clearance and Sensitive Compartmented Information Access (TS/SCI). How long this security clearance process will depend on such factors as your places of residence, your employment experience, and your financial history.

Should you pass all these procedures with flying colors, the Office of Human Resources Management will notify you when to report for work. You will have to undergo Mandatory Intelligence Specialist Training to become a permanent employee of the CBP as an Intelligence Research Specialist.