Almost all of the positions within the U.S. Border Patrol are graded according to the Federal Government General Schedule Pay Scale, which describes the 15 pay levels along with the 10 steps that comprise each level. Due to the law enforcement nature of the jobs within the Border Patrol, almost all careers within this agency fall between GS-5 and GS-15, although some non-critical support staff like environmental maintenance may fall short of those levels.
Factors that Influence Border Patrol Salaries
Considering the extensive period between pay grade promotions, it is often advisable for entering Border Patrol professionals to seek the highest possible initial pay grade. There are a number of factors that may influence this including:
- Education—A bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, Phd, JD or LLB can elevate the initial pay grade two to four levels in some cases.
- Professional experience—If the professional has at least two years performing duties similar to those found at a certain pay grade, in most cases they become eligible to enter at the succeeding pay grade.
- Military veteran—The federal government rewards those who have served honorably in its military by providing preference to them in the selection process as well as in determining their entering pay grade. The exiting rank of the veteran may influence the initial pay rating as they enter the U.S. Border Patrol.
Border Patrol Salaries for Specific CBP Professions
The General Schedule Pay Scale serves as the promotion framework for Border Patrol careers like Field Canine Coordinator, BP Agent, Air Interdiction Officer and Marine Interdiction Officer. There are ten steps within each pay grade.
Typically, BP professionals take one year to advance between steps 1-2, 2-3, and 3-4; two years to advance between 4-5, 5-6,6-7; and three years to advance between 7-8, 8-9, 9-10. This totals 18 years to gain promotion to the next pay grade, but this may be accelerated if the supervisor awards a “quality step increase,” which allows an immediate promotion to the next step. Quality step increases may be awarded at any time.
For the major jobs within the U.S. Border Patrol, the initial and terminal pay grades are as follows
|Job Title||Initial Pay Grade||Terminal Pay Grade |
|Border Patrol Agent||GS-5 or GS-7||GS-11|
|Air Interdiction Agent||GS-11||GS-14|
|Marine Interdiction Agent||GS-7 or GS-9||GS-12|
|Field Canine Coordinator||GS-10||GS-14|
The 2012 salary ranges for these General Schedule grades are as follows:
|General Schedule Grade||Salary Range||General Schedule Grade||Salary Range |
|General Schedule 5||$27431-$35657||General Schedule 11||$50287-$65371|
|General Schedule 6||$30577-$39748||General Schedule 12||$60274-$78355|
|General Schedule 7||$33979-$44176||General Schedule 13||$71674-$93175|
|General Schedule 8||$37631-$48917||General Schedule 14||$84697-$110104|
|General Schedule 9||$41563-$54028||General Schedule 15||$99628-$129517|
|General Schedule 10||$45771-$59505|
The final pay grade that a professional in the U.S. Border Patrol obtains may be limited if they remain in the field. Those who become a manager, instructor or executive typically enjoy promotion options not available to field operatives.
These salaries are also subject to cost of living adjustments and Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) which is a bonus of 25 percent of the base salary. LEAP is meant to compensate BP officers for their long hours, hazardous duties and around-the-clock availability.