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At the frontlines of the more than 300 ports of entry of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency are the CBP Officers—the men and women who are charged with the very important task of enforcing customs, immigration, and agriculture laws and regulations. They are also responsible for guarding our gateways, especially when it comes to detecting and preventing terrorists and their weapons of mass destruction to enter the U.S. They are also charged with facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel; conducting inspections of individuals and conveyances; and determining the admissibility of individuals for entry into the United States. It is also their responsibility to prevent the illegal entry of individuals and prohibited goods and smuggling of illegal drugs and other contraband in their duty stations.
The CBP requires that all potential applicants for this position hold U.S. Citizenship and hold residency in the U.S. or its territories for the last three years and hold a valid driver’s license. They should also pass the background security investigation, the polygraph test, written test, medical exam, physical fitness test, and drug test to be considered. CBP Officer candidates must also be referred for selection before their 37th birthday. However, if you are a veteran preference eligible, this restriction does not apply. Being proficient in another language will also strengthen your application. In fact, the ability to speak, read, and write in Spanish is a necessity for all CBP Officers serving in duty locations along the Southwest Border, particularly in Southern California, New Mexico, Arizona, Western and Southwestern Texas, Miami, Florida and Puerto Rico.
All applicants can qualify for CBP Officer positions based on education, experience, or both. At the GS-5 level (entry-level), you need to complete at least three (3) years of general experience that requires the ability to meet and deal with people and the ability to learn and apply a body of facts. The work could be in the form of explaining administrative requirements and procedures to others and screening forms to ensure that they are completed properly in accordance with requirements. Supervisory duties or operating a business also count. If you do not meet the experience requirements, you can still qualify if you hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You may also qualify based on a combination of experience and education.
Having one year of specialized experience where you were involved in substantive duties in inspections work at borders, seaports, airports or other ports of entry and/or work involving preliminary screening of persons for entry and immigration status, or compliance/regulatory work which demonstrated your ability to apply specialized knowledge of the laws, regulations, and procedures for importing and exporting merchandise to and from the United States and/or law enforcement can qualify at the GS-7 level. One (1) full academic year of graduate education, or a master’s or higher degree or meeting the provisions of Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) can also be qualifying at the GS-7 level.
All CBP Officers are required to carry weapons. As such, if you were convicted for felonies or convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, you will be automatically disqualified from this position. Other potentially disqualifying factors include firings from previous employment with cause and a derogatory credit history.
The selection process is quite tedious. You will have to pass a 5-hour written test which will test your Reasoning Skills, Writing Skills, and the CBP Experience record. You must get a combined rating of at least 70 to pass. It would be to your advantage to download and read the study guide for the CBP Officer Entrance Examination at the CBP website before you begin the application process since this will help familiarize yourself with the test. The guide is available at (www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/careers/study_guides/guides_supervisory/entry_guide/). If you pass the written test, you will be called for a video-based test and a face-to-face structured interview.
Note that you will be required to pass two Pre-Employment Physical Fitness Tests to be considered for employment. The first will be done during the application process and the second will be at the end of your basic training. Speaking of basic training, all selected CBP Officers are required to attend 17 to 19 weeks of paid training at the CBP Academy in Brunswick, GA. You will be given instruction to enable you to perform the duties of a CBP Officer successfully, including a Spanish language immersion class which is 6 weeks long if you are not yet proficient in reading, writing, and speaking it. In addition, you will also undergo a rigorous fitness training program to prepare you for the physical demands of the job. Failure to complete the training and pass all the requirements there could be grounds for your mandatory removal as a CBP Officer.