How To Become A Border Patrol Agent

As a border patrol agent, you will be monitoring the borders that separate the United States from Canada and Mexico to ensure that illegal immigrants, narcotics and smuggled goods will not be able to enter the country. You will be playing a vital part in the prevention of human trafficking through land, sea or air while at the same time facilitating the smooth flow of legal trade, tourists and migrants. Dangerous situations involving chasing and even shootouts with smugglers, drug ring members and illegal aliens are all part and parcel of the job.

Since this is a law enforcement position, you will be carrying a firearm and must know how and when to use it. You will need to know how to keep your calm under intense pressure. You also need to be patient, be willing to work alone and do patrol on foot in areas that cannot be accessed by vehicles or horseback and have no qualms doing nighttime duty or extended hours.

Why Become A Border Patrol Agent

One major reason to consider a career as a border patrol agent is that it allows you to play a concrete role in the protection of America’s borders from the all-too real threat of terrorism. It enables you to prevent the entry of weapons of mass destruction that could potentially kill your loved ones. It allows you to stop terrorists from gaining a foothold in the US. The job is dangerous and can even cost you your life. The job is immensely fulfilling for the patriotic citizen even if the pay is not very lucrative.

Border Patrol Agent Work Environment

Border patrol agents can be assigned in any of the country’s ports of entry. These can be located in the Southwestern portion of the United States, Texas East, the Northwest/Northern Border, West Coast, Midwest, Northeast, Central/East Coast, Southeast, Florida, Pacific, Alaska and Hawaii. Although border patrol agents do have vehicles when they conduct their patrol duties, there are some areas which are not accessible even by horseback and as such, patrol must be done on foot for long stretches. Shift work is common so agents can be assigned to work at a daytime or nighttime shift. Extended hours are common, particularly if illegal migrants or contraband have to be processed. Border patrol agents may be forced to defend themselves against drug dealers and terrorists who wish to gain entry into the US, making the job dangerous.

Border Patrol Agent Salary

Border patrol agents are covered by the General Schedule pay system, which are also based on surveys done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. It is composed of 15 grades and 10 steps in each grade. Border patrol agents generally start at Grade 5 and can expect a yearly wage of anywhere from $36,000 to $46,000 in their first year on the job. However, they can earn as much as $70,000 for their first three years of service. Doing extra duty can increase an agent’s pay by at least 10 percent to at most 25 percent. Agents can also earn deferential for going on duty at night, on Sundays and holidays.

Border Patrol Agent Career Outlook

The US Customs and Border Protection, an agency under the US Department of Homeland Security, said that border protection is a fast growing field. After the events of 9/11, efforts to counter terrorism have become a priority. In 2010, Congress also approved a bill that would add 1,000 more border patrol agents in the country. The recent developments around the world today would certainly contribute to the need of the United States to further beef up its security efforts.

Border Patrol Agent Degree

As far as educational requirement is concerned, a high school diploma is generally enough to qualify a person as a border patrol agent at the entry level. However, there are other requirements that must be fulfilled. Applicants must be below 37 years of age unless one is a qualified Veterans’ Preference eligible candidate or was previously with Federal law enforcement; be a US citizen or resident of the US; medical examination; pass two pre-employment fitness tests, background investigation and a drug test. Applicants must also know how to speak Spanish or can learn how to speak Spanish since most of the illegal aliens that border patrol agents interact with only speak this language.

After an applicant gets hired, he must successfully finish a paid “Basic Academy” training at the US Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico. Those who are already fluent in Spanish will only undergo the training for 58 days on topics covering immigration and nationality laws, physical training and marksmanship. Those who still need to learn Spanish will have to stay for 40 more days for Spanish language training.

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