Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers are crucial for U.S. protection against international crime attempting to sneak through our borders. Without the men and women who serve under the U.S. Customs and Border Protect Agency, our country would be defenseless to dangerous international cartels and illegal aliens. U.S. businesses would suffer from no taxes being charged on imported goods. Possible bacteria or pests could cross our borders on international produce that could harm our agricultural industry. Due to similar job functions, you may be thinking of your options to transfer between the two careers.
While a Border Patrol Agent may have an experience that would be valuable as a Customs and Border Protection Officer, a lateral transfer between the two careers is not a choice. If a BPA is interested in becoming a CBP Officer they must apply and go through the standard application process.
Whether you are interested in becoming a BPA or CBP Officer, or you already are a BPA and wondering the steps to take to become a CBP Officer, all the information you will need to start pursuing your career is provided below.
How Do You Become a Border Patrol Agent (BPA)?
A Border Patrol Agent’s duties are like the duties of a police officer. The main difference is the location of their jurisdiction. As a BPA, your main duty is to protect the United States’ international borders between ports of entry.
Some main functions include – counterterrorism and catching drug smugglers and undocumented immigrants. Once you become a BPA, a countless number of opportunities for career advancement through specialized job opportunities exist. Some examples include horse patrol, K-9 unit, and off-road vehicle unit.
Due to the physical and mental demands of the career, the application process is rigorous and lengthy. Before even starting the application process, individuals must make sure they meet the basic eligibility requirements to become a BPA. Those requirements include:
- be a U.S. citizen
- have a valid driver’s license
- resided in the U.S. for the last 3 out of 5 years
- be eligible to carry a firearm
- be less than 40 years of age at the time of selection
- be willing to often travel for work, or even relocate
Once you have made sure you meet the above eligibility requirements, you may start your journey along the application process:
1. Complete an online application via the USAJOBS website.
2. Border Patrol Entrance Exam
Due to the high volume of applicants for this position, an entrance exam to test basic skills needed as a BPA is administered. The exam must be passed before human resources will even contact you or take a look at your application. The first part of the exam is a record of your experience and can be completed at home on your computer. In the second part of the exam, you will complete a logical reasoning test. This section of the exam must be completed at a testing center. A study guide for the exam is provided at https://www.cbp.gov/careers/car/study-guides.
3. Qualifications Review
A qualifications review is conducted by a human resource recruiter to make sure that you meet all the necessary qualifications for the position. You are required to send a federal resume through your USAJOBS account. A resume guide is provided to make sure that your resume is reviewed and accepted as soon as possible – https://www.cbp.gov/careers/car/bpa-resume-aid.
4. Background Check
5. Medical Exam
As a BPA, your body is pushed physically due to the demands of the job. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency wants to make sure you can meet those demands and they are hiring an individual in good health. Thus, a medical examination is administered. They will go over the physical capabilities needed to complete the job and prior medical history. A hearing and vision test are also conducted.
6. Physical Fitness Test
Another way they can test to make sure you are physically able to meet the demands of the job is through their physical fitness test. Most law enforcement positions need individuals to pass some sort of physical fitness test. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s physical fitness test includes push-ups, sit-ups, and step tests. Exact requirements (the number of sit-ups/ push-ups you will need to be able to do) are provided on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website.
8. Polygraph Exam
9. Drug Test
After completing and passing all 9 steps within the application process, then you are considered to be selected for the 19-week intense training academy in New Mexico.
You may contact a BPA recruiter who can answer any questions you may have about the application process or the career itself. They will also be there to guide you through each step of the application process. A list of BPA recruiters, to locate one in your area, is provided on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website.
Check out more information HERE.
How Do You Become a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer?
You have most likely run into a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer if you have ever flown internationally or been on a cruise that ventured out of the country. As a CBP Officer, your main job duty is to provide international border security at all ports of entry. Duties include counterterrorism, customs, immigration, trade, and agriculture.
The process of becoming a CBP Officer includes the same 9 steps of becoming a BPA described above. Some key differences to note include:
- Within the eligibility requirements to apply for a CBP Officer position, the age cut-off is 37 years of age.
- The specifics of the vision, hearing and physical fitness tests are different.
- Once you have completed and passed all the 9 steps within the application process, then you must attend the 89-day Field Operations Academy.
Aspiring CBP Officers also have access to CBP Officer recruiters to answer any of their questions and guide them through the application process – https://www.cbp.gov/careers/frontline-careers/cbpo/recruiter.
I am a BP Agent Who Is Interested in Becoming a Custom’s Officer – What Do I Do?
If you are interested in switching careers the first step would be to contact a CBP Officer Recruiter to help you with the process, as it is a bit more complicated of a process than usual.
As stated before, it is not an easy lateral transfer within the Department of Homeland Security. You do have to fill out an online application on USAJOBS and complete the 9-step application process described in the above section. Some steps within the application process may be waived because they were completed during your application process to become a BPA, such as the background check and polygraph test.
After the application process is complete and you are selected, then you would attend that 89-day Field Operations Academy. Many of the daily job duties are different between BPAs and CBP Officers. For this reason, that is why lateral transfers are not conducted. The training for the two positions is much different, as well.
Border Patrol Agent? Customs and Border Protection Officer? – What’s the Difference?
Both jobs fall under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency which is ran by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency consist of three main job opportunities – Customs and Border Protection Officers, Border Patrol Agents, and Marine and Air Agents.
BPA’s and CBP Officer’s jobs are similar in the fact that their main role is to protect our international borders. The key difference is BPAs protect the international border between ports of entry and CBP Officers protect the international border at ports of entry. Due to this Main difference, BPAs are often outside patrolling the border during their shift, where CBP Officers are often found inside performing their duties at airports, seaports, or border stations. BPAs are often tracking down and investigating individuals trying to illegally cross international borders or smuggle customs, drugs, or humans across the border. CBP officers are investigating individuals, their luggage, merchandise, and mail that comes across our borders.
1. Can You Transfer from Customs to Border Patrol?
You cannot transfer from Customs to Border Patrol. The process would be like applying to be a CBP Officer with experience as a BPA. Steps that were already completed during the application process will be waived and your federal pay grade will transfer.
2. What can disqualify you from becoming a Border Patrol Agent or Customs Officer?
Just as there is a list of certain eligibility requirements you must meet to apply for either position, there is also a list of certain situations that would make you ineligible to apply. Those situations include – use of illegal drugs, sale/distribution of illegal drugs or substances, convictions, international harboring, and concealment of an illegal alien.
3. Are some eligibility requirements waived for military veterans?
Yes, some eligibility requirements are waived for transitioning military and veterans. The age requirements may be waived. If you have lived outside of the U.S. for 3 or more years out of the past 5 years due to PCS orders, the residency requirement may also be waived. You may not have to take the physical fitness test either.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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