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Career Profile of a Border Patrol Officer

Job Descriptions November 29, 2012

Border patrol agents have the responsibility of maintaining the security and safety of the borders in the United States. They have to endure and pass stringent mental and physical exams along with background checks; they are require to know Spanish and must learn the language, if they do not know it.

Wage Potential

On average, an entry-level border patrol agent can earn between $38,619 and $49,029 annually (source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), (www.cbp.gov)). They can earn more depending on their experience and education levels. The patrol agents can increase their income by twenty-five, if they work holidays and weekends shifts along with some overtime. They get additional benefits like a uniform allowance of $1,500 and paid training, apart from a federal employee benefits.

Job Responsibilities

Border patrol officers are employed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection; their employer, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, requires them to monitor and protect the United States’ international borders that are 8,000 miles in length. They are responsible for preventing the entry of goods, drugs and illegal immigrants into the United States. The duties include the identification and prevention of trafficking of contraband and humans. They must perform these additional duties while working to facilitate trade alongside other law enforcement agencies. Specifically, border patrol officers are required to ensure covert surveillance, control traffic, prevent the entry of terrorist weapons, seize contraband shipments, and monitor people leaving and entering the United States. The work they do is likely to be difficult and could expose border patrol officers to danger, especially when they work in shifts including night shifts. They are required to be armed with firearms and given training in marksmanship.

Career Prospects

The border protection industry is experiencing rapid growth (source: CBP).Post 9/11, border patrol agents’ role grew with efforts aimed at countering terrorism became a national priority. With the debate about immigration becoming more vociferous, in recent times, more and more border patrol officers are hired. In 2010, a $600 million bill approved by Congress stipulating the additional employment, across the United States, of 1,000 border patrol agents.

Requisites

Border patrol agents should not be older than forty years old; however, this rule is not applicable in the case of people who have experience in federal law enforcement work. Qualified veterans from the arm forces above forty years old can be employed as border patrol agents. The patrol agents need to be citizens residing in the United States; they must possess a valid state driver’s license. They are require to know Spanish and must learn the language, if they do not know it. They have to undergo and pass stringent mental and physical — medical, fitness and drug — tests as well as background checks. They must have the legal capacity to possess a firearm and may in some cases be required to submit to a lie-detector test.

Once an aspiring border patrol agent meets all the requirements, they will need to take the Border Patrol Exam. Once they pass the exam, they will have to undergo intense training for twelve weeks at New Mexico’s Border Patrol Academy. Additionally, those who do not speak Spanish will have to enroll in a language immersion training lasting eight weeks.

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