How to Become a Customs Officer in 4 Steps

Steps for Becoming a CBP Officer
  1. Pass the GS-9 waiver entrance exam.
  2. Be a U.S. citizen who is under 37 years of age.
  3. Have resided in the U.S. for three years before applying.
  4. Possess a valid driver’s license.
  5. Pass a medical exam, drug test, and security background check.
  6. Submit to and pass two physical fitness tests (PFTs)

Your Journey To Becoming A Customs & Border Protection Officer

How to become a customs officer in 4 steps

The competition to secure a position within U.S. Customs and Border Protection is fierce, and only a few qualified candidates are selected. The basic requirements include a bachelors degree from an accredited university, good physical fitness and at least one to three years of professional work experience in law enforcement, security or criminal investigation. Pursuing a degree in law or criminal justice typically provides a competitive edge.

Applicants must also:

If you meet these requirements and want to become a customs officer, consider following these four steps:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

If youre considering a career as a customs officer, completion of a bachelors degree in a field such as security management, psychology, humanities or liberal arts is vital for entry with a GS-5 rating. This can help you secure an entry-level position, such as a job as an administrative assistant. To be eligible for entry with a GS-7 rating, you need a masters degree or higher. This allows you to be recruited for an officer position. With a bachelors degree, candidates can apply for entry-level positions without prior work experience.

It is advisable to learn a foreign language while completing your graduate program. Customs officers meet with people from various countries, and your ability to speak to them in their language enables you to better interact with them.

2. Complete the interview process

A position as a customs officer is a tough job that is physically demanding. Therefore, you must take and pass a structured interview in which youre given an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the abilities and skills necessary to handle the role youre applying for. During this structured interview, the panel of CBP officers also assess your emotional maturity and character. Candidates need to pass this structured interview in order to be hired.

3. Apply for a position and meet the employers requirements

Candidates interested in this career are able to log onto the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to search for open customs officer jobs. If a position is available, you can complete the pre-test form, wait for approval and then provide personal information for a background check. Candidates are expected to complete a five-hour written test to assess their reasoning and writing skills.

4. Complete any required training

Customs officers are required to complete an intensive training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, which takes 89 days to complete. The course covers relevant topics such as firearm handling, anti-terrorism and detection of contraband. Instruction is also provided on cross-cultural communication and interviewing. Candidates receive compensation and benefits while completing this training program.

What does a customs officer do?

A customs officer works at an air, land, or sea port of entry to protect the country from international threats. They search luggage to ensure questionable items are not smuggled into the country, review passports and visas, prepare reports and witness statements and ask questions to determine why passengers are entering the country. They are also responsible for ensuring that trade, immigration and agriculture laws are enforced. They usually work in rotating shifts, since borders and ports are open 24 hours a day.

Some customs officers specialize in immigration while others have special training in handling drugs. The typical daily assignments of a customs officer include:

In some cases, customs officers may patrol the Mexican and Canadian borders and engage in water patrol efforts along coastal waterways.

Salary and job outlook

A customs officer receives a competitive salary, including benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, vacation leave and paid time off. Customs officers receive a salary that corresponds to their grade level.

In addition, you may receive cash awards for exemplary performance. There are various opportunities for career growth, too. For instance, youre eligible for a promotion to the next level after completing one year at your current level, and with each promotion, you can expect the potential for receiving a significant salary increase.

Skills for a customs officer

In addition to the education requirements mentioned above, anyone wishing to work as a customs officer should possess certain skills that will assist in making them an outstanding candidate. These skills include:


How can I be a custom officer?

In order to become a Customs Officer, the aspirants will have to appear for the Civil Services Examination. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. This Entrance Exam provides entry into 27 different services which includes the Indian Customs & Central Excise Services.

What is the salary of airport Customs Officer in India?

You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or in airline and airport management. Candidates can also study a foreign language during their graduation. Studying foreign languages can help customs officers interact better with people from other countries.

Which degree is best for Customs Officer?

CBP Officer Requirements

To apply for a position as a Customs and Border Patrol Officer, you must be a U.S. citizen and must be under 40 years of age at time of appointment.

What is the age limit to join customs?

CBP Officer Requirements

To apply for a position as a Customs and Border Patrol Officer, you must be a U.S. citizen and must be under 40 years of age at time of appointment.

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