Border Patrol Agent Career

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

The Role of Border Patrol Agent in Criminal Justice and Law

The Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) are hired by the U.S. Border Patrol Agency which is believed to be the largest border security agency. USA’s land, airspace boundaries and sea borders are protected by the BPAs. Border Patrol Agents work under the United States Border Patrol within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Border Patrol came into existence on May 28, 1924 to put a hold on the increasing number of illegal immigrations. The Border Patrol Agents safeguard the border in order to protect the country from illegal immigrants entering the country, drug smuggling, entry of terrorists and terrorists’ weapon to prevent USA from terrorist attacks. They are authorized to apprehend the violators of immigration laws.

The area that comes under the surveillance of the BPAs is 6000 miles of land borders of Mexico and Canada and 2000 miles of coastal waters of Florida (Puerto Rico).

The job of Border Patrol Agents includes patrolling, monitoring electronic sensor television system, handling tracks, leads and evidences tactfully and aircraft sighting. The Border Patrol Agents need to be legally sound as they are often involved in legal formalities of immigration process of applicants for citizenship.

The career of Border Patrol Agents carries risk and potential challenges. The agents often face dangerous situations like coming across and handling armed criminals. Long working hours, overtime and often difficult and challenging work conditions are part and parcel of a border Patrol Agents’ job. The aspiring agents must be prepared to work 24/7 in all types of weather conditions and should be open to frequent travelling. They should have passion and dedication to serve their country.

Educational Requirements to Become a Border Patrol Agent

English: Map of the U.S. Customs and Border Pa...
English: Map of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol sectors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The minimum qualification required to become a Border Patrol Agent is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice of homeland security or law enforcement. Having this degree qualifies you to apply for this job. The candidates having one or more years of experience in law enforcement and military services have an edge over the other applicants. A master’s degree in the same field is also an added advantage as it influences the salary package.

Associate degree holders are eligible for qualifying GS-3 and GS-4 level positions. Four years graduate degree holders are eligible for GS-5 and GS-7 level jobs.

The aspiring agents must have strong communication skills, analysis skills, problem-solving skills and assessment skills.

Preparation for a Career as a Border Patrol Agent

The aspiring applicants for the job of Border Patrol Agents appear for the CBP Border Patrol entrance exam. The examination covers logical reasoning, IQ, basic language learning ability and physical fitness. Apart from clearing the exam, the applicants must pass the background check, medical test, physical fitness test and drug test.

English: Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol
English: Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Applicants must be prepared to appear for the Polygraph exam patiently which goes on for four to five hours. The candidates who make to the final round, need to pass an interview with the Oral hiring Board (OHB). A panel of minimum three senior Border Patrol Agents interview the selected candidates.

A clean criminal record is mandatory if one aspires to be a Border Patrol Agent. Only US citizens having a valid US driving license can apply for the job. The upper age limit of the applicants which was earlier 37 years, has now been increased to 40 years. The deserving candidates who qualify all the rounds of interview are finally selected to be the trainee Border Patrol Agents.

The trainee Border Patrol Agents are required to undergo a 58 days paid residential training at the Border Control Academy situated in Artesia, New Mexico. The training is based on Immigration law, firearms, driving training, physical and self-defense techniques.

The passing percentage of the training program is minimum 70%. The trainees after the training can be appointed at any location on the southwest border of United States and can be relocated to different regions. The work shifts are rotating so the BPAs need to work at night shifts as well.

The candidates who are not proficient in Spanish are required to complete a Spanish language training. The proficiency in English and Spanish is mandatory to work as a Border Patrol Agent.

How to apply for a Position as a Border Patrol Agent

Former U.S. President George W. Bush in a Bord...
Former U.S. President George W. Bush in a Border Patrol dune buggy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aspiring Border Patrol Agents can apply online on USAJOBS website ( or website. Search for the vacancies by typing Border Patrol Agent and read the instructions carefully mentioned under “How to apply”. The job announcement will be displayed.

The instructions must be read carefully before filling the application form.  All the details must be filled with utmost care.

The required documents should be scanned minutely before uploading. The resume should be drafted carefully and double-checked. The work experience mentioned in your resume must be supported with relevant documents.

Additional Information Related to a Career as a Border Patrol Agent

The job titles that the Border Patrol Agents hold are border guard, border patrol guard or patrol agents. The National Border Patrol Council represents to have around 18,000 Border Patrol Agents and other staff.

Average Salary of a Border Patrol Agent

U.S. Customs and Border Protection :Original c...
U.S. Customs and Border Protection :Original caption: CBP Officers uniforms and Border Patrol Agents uniforms pay tribute to fellow fallen officers during a Law Enforcement memorial service in Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The border Patrol Agents are federal employees and avail great job benefits in addition to a handsome compensation. They are entitled to daily allowance, housing allowance, transportation allowance, health and life insurance, thrift saving plan, paid holidays, annual salary increment and provident fund.

As stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Border Patrol Agents withdraw an annual salary of $58,630. The average pay that a newly appointed agent earns at the start is between $36,658 and $46,542.

Factors like location, designation and work experience influence the salary of the border patrol agents.

The United States has high level of security standards and therefore focuses on increasing security and inspection at the country’s borders. Hence the need for Patrol Agents in the US is never ending.

Notes Related to a Career as a Border Patrol Agent

The United States Border Patrol also has various Patrol units like Horse and Bike Patrol, Traffic checkpoints, Transportation checks and Marine Patrols. The Border Patrol Agents may be assigned at any of these units.

The following video does not necessarily represent the views of Criminal Justice Law International…though we do find it very funny. More importantly, John Oliver brings to bear an aspect of a career as a Border Patrol Agent that some may not be prepared to face. With an anticipated hiring push by the Trump Administration, those interested in becoming a U.S. Border Patrol Agent may want to view this video. So, enjoy.