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What Are the Different Types of Border Patrol Jobs?

Border patrol agents are required to make arrests as needed.
CBP officers work at ports of entry, including land border crossings.
Border patrol officers may detain and question people trying to illegal enter the country.
Border Patrol Agents use covert methods to detect and prevent illegal border crossings.
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  • Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2014
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For those interested in working in border patrol, frontline enforcement positions monitoring the border offer a number of career tracks. In the US, all border patrol jobs are hired through the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). Most border control agencies in other countries are government-run as well. Getting a border patrol job with one of these agencies tends to require the right mix of training, physical prowess and education.

Among the various types of border patrol jobs, a Border Patrol Agent is probably the most well-known. These agents are responsible for actively monitoring northern and southern land borders in the US to prevent terrorists, illegal immigrants and contraband from entering through Mexico or Canada. One of the main duties of the Border Patrol Agent is the line watch, using covert surveillance methods to detect and prevent illegal border crossings. Before becoming a Border Patrol Agent, qualified applicants must complete rigorous training at the border patrol academy and demonstrate skills in such areas as survival shooting techniques, immigration law and safely operating patrol vehicles.

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One critical area in border patrol jobs is that of the CBP Officer. CBP Officers work at ports of entry around the country, including international airports, seaports and land border crossings. Typical duties of the job include monitoring against terrorist and criminal activities. Making arrests, inspecting luggage and responding to basic customs violations are also considered an important part of the job. CBP officer candidates receive several months of paid training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, where a thorough education is provide on communicating with the public, contraband detection, import laws and other airport safety issues.

A specialized area within the CBP is that of Air and Marine Interdiction Agents. These agents usually work together to protect the US border from the skies and waterways and are essential to preventing unauthorized entry of people, weapons and narcotics. These agents can also provide security during high-profile events, be dispatched during natural disasters and may work closely with other law enforcement agencies.

For those with scientific backgrounds, a career as a CBP Agricultural Specialist can also be considered. Those employed in this area work to detect and prevent biological threats, pests and plant or animal diseases that can negatively affect the nations crops, livestock and the environment. A bachelor’s degree in a biological science, knowledge of agricultural laws and experience working with computers is likely to be required in this position.

Due to the growth in international trade, a number of revenue-related border patrol jobs are available at the CBP. These positions include Import Specialists, who might be responsible for inspecting merchandise imported into the country, detecting counterfeits and seizing prohibited cargo. Revenue positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in an area related to the position, such as international trade or commerce.

Individuals not interested in positions on the frontline can still take part in vital employment opportunities happening behind the scenes. Possible border patrol jobs that provide support to frontline missions include everything from civil engineering to accounting. For many support positions, a college-degree is not mandatory; instead, a mixture of education and experience may be sufficient.

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