How to Become a Border Patrol Agent

If you are interested in a career that will allow you to defend your country by helping to prevent terrorists, weapons, and drugs from crossing the border, you might want to learn how to become a border patrol agent.

Requirements

To be a border patrol agent, you must be an American citizen who has resided in the United States for at least 3 years before applying for employment. You must also be less than 40 years old. The exception would be if you are retired from federal civil law enforcement. In addition, you will need a valid driver’s license.

Since the job requires you to be physically fit, you will have to pass both a medical exam and a physical fitness test. To prove your fitness for the position, you must be able to complete a 5-minute step series, 20 push ups in one minute and 25 sit ups in one minute.

You will also have to take an eye exam and a drug test.  Additionally, you will have to undergo a background check. You will not qualify if you have a “class A” misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record. They will also check back over a period of 10 years to make sure you don’t have any recent “class B” misdemeanor convictions in your file. If you do, you will be ineligible for consideration as a border patrol agent.

Education/Training

Different positions have different education and training requirements; however, you will have to earn either a bachelor's or master’s degree in something like criminal justice. You will also have to pass an admissions test or border patrol exam and earn a minimum rating of GL5 in order to be considered for employment. Be aware that the written test isn’t easy–only one in 30 applicants pass it, so you will need to study. The 3-part test is 4.5 hours long and includes a section to determine your ability to learn foreign languages.

Along with your education, your previous employment experience is an important component in determining whether you will be hired, so make sure you list all your relevant work history when you are applying. You will find it especially beneficial to list any computer skills you have as well as any foreign languages that you know. Just be aware that if you say you know Spanish, you will be required to pass a Spanish proficiency test.

Apply

To find out about the current job openings, you should search the career section of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. You can also look for openings at cbp.gov or usajobs.opm.gov. If you see a position you are interested in, you should complete the online application. If your qualifications impress the decision maker, then you will be called for an interview–usually with three experienced border patrol agents. Make sure you prepare for the interview by researching some questions you are likely to be asked and thinking about how you would answer them.

Probation/Internship

Once you are hired, you begin your 2-year internship that includes additional education and on-the-job training. During this time, you will have to take one probationary exam after a period of 6 months and another one after a period of 10 months. If you do well during your internship, you will then be eligible for a permanent position.

While the job can be difficult and dangerous, it can be very rewarding to know that you are instrumental in ensuring that our borders are safe.