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Agriculture Specialist Careers

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Agriculture Specialists use their broad knowledge of plants, insects and diseases to detect and neutralize biological threats to U.S. crops or resources.  By inspecting cargo aboard ships, airplanes and land vehicles, Agriculture Specialists ensure that infestations or illnesses brought by non-native, invasive species of plants and pests are prevented from entering the U.S. where they may cause harm to people, livestock, crops or environmental assets.

These law enforcement professionals may conduct searches and investigations of individuals, commercial commodities, and pets in order to evaluate potential risks. Using a wide range of investigative tools like manifest searches and tactical intelligence, Agriculture Specialists maintain the safety of the United States.

Agriculture Specialist Job Description

Agriculture Specialist jobs involve pursuing any lead that may be found through the use of chemical or biological analysis, quarantine of organisms or travelers, medical examinations, crisis response methodologies or organism extermination.  These highly trained officials often work closely with the FBI and other defense agencies to identify biological and chemical threats, and then neutralize them.

Agriculture Specialist jobs involve performing the following duties:

  • Conduct database searches of information related to plants, infestations, diseases and organisms
  • Perform isolation strategies of suspect individuals and specimens
  • Search cargo, vehicles, aircraft or ships for prohibited plants, animals or materials
  • Research the most current information on high risk organisms and terrorist threats
  • Maintain knowledge of national and international regulations concerning searches and seizures
  • Provide expertise in biology, organism extermination and related fields to law enforcement officials
  • Design, manage or develop threat response strategies
  • Supervise counter-terrorism operations involving biological and chemical agents
  • Perform biological, physical and chemical evaluations of suspect materials and organisms
  • Detect, diagnose and evaluate travelers suspected of harboring a contagious illness that poses a public health risk

Agriculture Specialist Salary and Job Benefits

Agriculture Specialists may enter the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the GS-5, GS-7 or GS-9 pay level with the option of progressing up to the GS-12 pay level.  For 2012, the salary ranges for these pay levels were as follows:

  • General Schedule 5:  $27,431 –  $35,657
  • General Schedule 7:  $33,979 –  $44,176
  • General Schedule 9:  $41,563 –  $54,028
  • General Schedule 12:  $60,274 –  $78,355

This reflects only the base salary which may be supplemented by overtime (100% bonus), night shift (15% bonus) or Sunday hours (50% bonus).

As federal employees, Agriculture Specialist jobs bring many generous federal benefits, including:

  • Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) offers a variety of available health insurance plans
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) is a supplemental program that offers additional insurance protection at minimal cost
  • Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) is a voluntary program that covers many of the costs associated with dental and vision services
  • Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) offers several life insurance plans
  • SAMBA Employee Benevolent Fund (EBF) provides $17,500 in death benefits for a $26 payment annually or $35,000 in benefits for $52 annually
  • Federal Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) offers assistance in paying for nursing home or long term facility costs
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are funds set aside to help allay health and dependent care costs
  • Retirement benefits may be derived from the
    •  Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) after 30 years of service
    •  Civil Service Retirement Offset (CSRS-offset) after 30 years of service
    •  Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) after 30 years of service

For more information on how to become an agriculture specialist, click here.

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