Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) are law enforcement personnel who ensure that people and goods travelling into the US are in accordance with the law. The main area where their work is concentrated includes the borders of Mexico and Canada, as well as the coastal waters of Puerto Rico and Florida. Border Patrol Agents are responsible for controlling illegal immigration and defending the American people against terrorism, agricultural pests, drugs and human trafficking.
If you want to become a border patrol agent, here is all the information that you would need.
How to Become a Border Patrol Agent?
Before you get into the educational and professional qualifications required to become a border patrol agent, you need to meet a few basic qualification requirements.
Qualification Requirements for a Border Patrol Agent
Prospective BPAs must:
- Be less than 40 years of age at the time of hiring
- Have US citizenship
- Have a valid driver´s license
- Be registered to carry a firearm
- Have a bachelor´s or a master´s degree in criminal justice or a related field. If not this, then have equivalent work experience
- Physically fit
- Have lived in the country for at least the past 3 years
- Pass a drug test
- Not be a convicted criminal
Educational Requirements for a Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agents should ideally posses a bachelor’s degree in any field. Even though entry-level jobs in the field don’t require a postsecondary degree, getting one may result in a better salary package. Typical entry level agents are hired at the GS-5, GS-7 and GS-9 levels. The higher levels get a greater salary. For these higher levels, you must have relevant job experience or a postgraduate degree in the relevant field. Alternatively, you can qualify for a BPA position through a combination of education and work experience. As a general principle, each year of full-time education would get counted as three months of general work experience. However, if you have any work experience where the difficulty level was more or equal to that of a federal grade GS-4, you do not need a college degree. According to the US Customs and Border Protection, you do not need to get an education in a specific degree, although doing so might put you at an advantage. Your experience should demonstrate your skills in management, decision making and maintaining composure in high pressure situations.
However, if you want to enroll in a specific education field, the following majors would be your available choices:
- Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
- Criminal Science
- Forensic Science
- Juvenile Corrections
- Police, Science and Law Enforcement
- Security and Theft Prevention
- Law Enforcement Administration
- Corrections, Probation and Parole
- Securities Services Management
Border Patrol Entrance Exam
After you have met all the prerequisites to become a BPA, you will now be qualified to appear for the Border Patrol Entrance exam for pay grade GL-5 and/or GL-7. This exam is set out by the Customs and Border Protection agency and you will receive an invitation to schedule your exam once your application is approved. The exam is made up of three main sections:
Section 1: Logical Reasoning
Section 2: Spanish Language Proficiency
Section 3: Artificial Language Exam
Things You Need to Know About Scheduling and Preparing for your BPA Entrance Exam:
- Regularly check the junk/spam folders for emails from the CBP hiring or USA Hire
- It is recommended that you use a desktop computer while scheduling, rather than a tablet or phone
- Schedule your exam in an area close to your residence (110 mile radius)
- When the announcement is made, apply as early as you can to avail most options for testing
- The announcement would contain dates for the online testing
- The entrance exam might take 5 hours to complete, so prepare accordingly
- The exam requires proper test preparation so make sure you go through plenty of relevant study guides before appearing for the exam
- Your evaluation will be done based on your resume, relevant documents and the Entrance test scores, if applicable in your case. To clear the exam, candidates must pass with a score of at least 70
- Tests scores of all dates before December 1, 2014 are no longer valid
- Once you take the BPA Entrance Exam, you will no longer be eligible to sit in for another 6 months – regardless of whether you passed or failed the exam
Training for a Border Patrol Agent
Once you have cleared the Entrance Exam and all the requirements prior to it, you will now be ready for your training as a BPA. You will have to complete a 58-day paid training program. Agents who are not fluent in Spanish would be required to complete an additional 40 days of training where they will receive Spanish language instruction. The training would cover topics such as:
- Nationality Law
- Applied Authority
- Immigration Law
- Operations 1
- Operations 2
In addition to extensive training in laws, aspiring BPAs will also receive physical and firearms training.
The job of a BPA would require you to be in perfect shape and capable of performing high intensity duties. Specific requirements include having good vision and good hearing, along with passing three specific physical exams.
- The Push-Up Test: Candidates will be required to complete 20 push-ups in 60 seconds
- The Sit-Up Test: Candidates will be required to do 25 sit-ups in 60 seconds
- The Cardiovascular Test: This test will require candidates to take 120 steps per minute for five minutes, making use of a 14-inch high bench
Other physical requirements include running 1.5 miles in 13 minutes or less and completing an obstacle course in 150 seconds or less.
To check the complete set of requirements, you are advised to get in touch with the US Customs and Border Protection personnel. They can provide you with a detailed set of requirements you will need to meet to become a BPA.