How to Become an Agriculture Specialist

Applicants for Agriculture Specialist jobs must meet the following basic qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Pass a background security check (Arrests, convictions, job dismissals, insolvency, excessive alcohol use, or illegal drug use is often prohibitive)
  • Pass a drug test
  • Pass a medical examination
  • Possess proficiency with Word, Excel or Access
  • Willingness to work overtime and irregular shifts
  • Willingness to wear a uniform

Education Requirements of CBP Agriculture Specialist Jobs

Due to the broad technical expertise necessary to function as an Agriculture Specialist, only candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree are considered for these jobs.  The degree must have been earned in one of the following majors:

  • Biological sciences
  • Botany
  • Entomology
  • Agriculture
  • Natural resource management
  • Chemistry

In some cases, at least 24 semester hours in any of these courses may be sufficient if combined with professional experience in

  • Pest control
  • Pesticide application
  • Aircraft or passenger inspection
  • Insect detection or eradication
  • X-ray or environmental monitoring
  • Farm management related to disease control

These qualifications are sufficient for the GS-5 level. In order to qualify for the GS-7 rating, a candidate must possess the above requirements as well as one of the following

  • One year of graduate level education in a biology related field
  • One year of professional experience at the GS-5 level involving vessel, vehicle, aircraft or baggage inspection, or evaluation of agricultural and biological commodities for U.S. entry

In order to become an Agriculture Specialist with a GS-9 rating, the candidate must possess all of the GS-7 qualifications in addition to one of the following

  • Master’s degree in a field related to the position
  • One year of professional experience equivalent to those of a GS-7 Agriculture Specialist

Elective Certification Options for CBP Agriculture Specialists

There are no required certifications for Agriculture Specialist careers, but possessing one or more of the following professional certifications may be helpful in acquiring a position or advancing.

  • Certified Agricultural Consultant—This credential is awarded by the American Society of Farm Managers and Appraisers. Requirements include
    • Five years as an agricultural consultant
    • Successful completion of the consulting and ethics courses along with an additional 60 hours of study in a specialized field of consulting
    • Passed an examination including oral, written and case study sections
    • Four year college degree
  • Board Certified Entomologist—This certification is offered by the Entomological Society of America. Requirements include one of the following
    • At least a bachelor’s degree in entomology or related field along with three years professional experience in the field
    • At least a master’s degree  in entomology or a related field in addition to two years of field work
    • A Doctor of Philosophy in entomology or a related field and one year of field work
    • Successfully complete the General Entomology Qualifying Exam

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