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How to Become a Border Patrol Agent in California

Individuals interested in learning how to become a Border Patrol Agent in California through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must follow a number of specific steps to qualify for employment:

1.  Complete your education.

Depending on the California Border Patrol Agent job for which you apply, a four-year education is often preferred. Master’s degree in such areas as Criminal Justice is often preferred for higher positions.

2.  Ensure you meet all requirements for Border Patrol Jobs in California.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has very strict requirements for Border Patrol Agent jobs. In particular, candidates must:

  • Be U.S. citizens
  • Hold U.S. residency for at least 3 years
  • Be below 40 years of age unless they qualify for Veteran eligibility or if they have work experience in federal law enforcement
  • Hold a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Undergo a background investigation, criminal arrest and conviction investigation, credit check, a thorough medical examination, fitness tests, and a drug test

Individuals with current or past arrests or convictions; individuals with domestic violence convictions; and individuals with debt or financial troubles may not qualify for employment.

3.  Identify Border Patrol Jobs in California.

You may view available positions through the Resource Center at USAJOBS.gov. Review the vacancy announcement to be sure you qualify for the position. Use the HR Contact on the job vacancy as a resource if you should have any questions throughout the application process.

You may also contact a CBP Recruiter in California for additional guidance. If you live in the Eastern area of California (El Centro Sector), you can reach a CBP Recruiter at 1-866-508-9076. If you live in any other area of California (San Diego Sector), you can reach a CBP Recruiter at 1-619-216-4152.

If you want additional information about becoming a Border Patrol Agent in California, you may choose to attend one of the many recruiting, career and informational events that take place throughout the year in San Diego, Fullerton, Woodland Hills, and Long Beach. You can find specific dates through the CBP’s Outreach/Recruiting calendar.

4.  Apply for the appropriate Border Patrol job vacancy through USAJOBS.gov before the job vacancy’s closing date.

Specific instructions are available in the How to Apply section of the vacancy announcement. In addition to your application, it is important to remember to submit all required documents to be considered for the position.  If you need additional assistance or are unable to apply for the Border Patrol job online, contact the Human Resources Office contact listed on the job vacancy.

5.  Successfully pass the entrance examination.

All candidates applying for Border Patrol jobs must pass an entrance examination, which includes three parts: Spanish language (or an artificial language test that determines your willingness to learn); logical reasoning; and previous work experience assessments. You can access useful study guides/preparation manuals on the CBP website.

6.  Complete all pre-employment forms, tests, exams and other prerequisites.

Once your application has been reviewed and accepted, you will begin receiving application status updates via email. You may also log into the Central Applicant Self-Service (CASS) to review your job status. The CASS system will also guide you through the forms, medical exams, and fitness tests that must take place in the pre-employment phase.

In particular, the CBP will require two pre-employment fitness tests (fitness requirements can be found here), as well as an oral interview.

7.  Receive word if you have been accepted.

The name and applications of those individuals who ranked the highest are referred to the manager or selecting official for review. You can expect to be contacted directly if the CBP requires any additional information or requests additional evaluations.

8.  Complete training at the CBP Border Patrol Academy.

The CBP Border Patrol Academy, which is located in Artesia, New Mexico, has an extremely challenging curriculum. The Academy is where all Border Patrol Agents learn basic law enforcement abilities. The Academy’s program consists of a 58-day resident course of instruction in such areas as: physical training, driving, firearms instruction, and law. Those individuals not fluent in Spanish must also take a 40-day Task-Based Language Training program.

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