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Answer: You must be very physically fit if you want to become a border patrol agent!
The job is physically demanding. It involves working outdoors in all weather conditions, often in rough terrain. Agents use cars, ride on horseback, and even patrol on foot to protect America’s borders. Chasing and apprehending illegal migrants; walking and running long distances; and holding firearms for long periods of time are all part of the job! It’s not surprising that the Customs and Border Protection has strict physical fitness requirements for border patrol agent applicants.
Before candidates can commence border patrol duties, they have to pass two Pre-employment Fitness Tests: 1) STEP Test and the 2) Second Pre-employment Fitness Test or PFT. The STEP Test is composed of three exercises which you must all pass if you want to keep your conditional employment offer with the CBP. The tests will be conducted in this order: Pushup Test, Sit-up Test, and STEP Test.
The Pushup Test is a timed test where you will be required to complete 20 proper form pushups in 1 minute. In the Sit-up Test, you will be asked to complete 25 proper form sit-ups in 1 minute. The final test is the Step Test where you will be required to step up and down on a 14-inch high bench at a rate of 120 steps per minute for 5 minutes. In the pushup and sit-up tests, the Test Administrator will tell you when to start and stop. For the Step Test, an audio tape containing constant beat and verbal cues will be used to maintain cadence. You will fail the step test if you fail to step for the entire 5 minutes; are unable to maintain stepping cadence (up, up, down, down) in accordance with the audio tape for more than 2 consecutive sequences; and fail to maintain the stepping cadence a total of 6 up, up, down, down cadence sequences during the entire 5 minute test.
For these tests, a regular exercise regimen is certainly recommended! Aerobic weight bearing exercises such as stepping, brisk walking, jogging, running, pushups, and sit-ups are all good ideas. Do the workouts gradually so that you don’t risk injuring yourself by doing too much too soon. If you are out of shape, be sure to visit your physician who will be able to give you a program that will help you train progressively.
The Second Pre-employment Fitness Test (PFT2) is a test battery that all border patrol agent candidates must take before they do their duty and attend Border Patrol Academy. The PFT2 is composed of four exercises: 1) 220 Yard Run; 2) Sit-ups; 3) Pushups; and 4) 1.5 mile run. You need to complete the 220 yard run in 46 seconds or less; do 25 proper form sit-ups in one minute; perform 20 proper form pushups in one minute; and complete a 1.5 mile run in 15 minutes or less.
Your blood pressure and heart rate will be taken before you do the PFT. If your blood pressure reading is higher than 140/90 or your heart rate is greater than 100 beats per minute, you cannot take the PFT but will be sent back to the Minneapolis Hiring Center (MHC) for further medical evaluation.
To be in tip-top form on the day of the test, you need to practice these exercises beforehand. Do so in a progressive manner so that you don’t suffer needless injuries.
Pass all four exercises and you’re on your way to becoming a border patrol agent!