The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, commonly known as the border patrol, became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 when preventing the entrance of terrorists and their weapons became the primary goal. Illinois is part of the Detroit Sector of the CBP, which supported 409 border patrol agent jobs and U.S. Customs careers in 2011.
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The number of CBP jobs nationwide has more than doubled in the last decade, from 9,821 in 2001 to 21,414 in 2011, making the border patrol a good career choice for young men and women eager to help ensure the security of their country.
Border Patrol Stations in Illinois
Illinois has nine CBP ports of entry. The state is bordered by four other states and Lake Michigan. Although the Lake Michigan coastline is only 62 miles long, it encompasses one of the world’s busiest shipping ports as well as the fourth most populated city in the U.S.
According to the Illinois International Port District, Chicago is not only America’s largest inland general cargo port but “the commercial transportation crossroads of the nation.” The Port of Chicago links waterborne domestic and foreign commerce with air, rail and highway systems for worldwide distribution.
The movement of over 20-million tons of cargo a year in containers, barges, vessels, trucks and airplanes keeps air and marine interdiction agents, as well as border patrol agents and CBP officers busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Border Patrol Job Requirements in Illinois
Besides constantly being on the alert for terrorists and their weapons, the Illinois border patrol is responsible for preventing the unlawful entry of undocumented aliens, drugs or other contraband merchandise; catching violators of immigration and other laws; and performing a full range of cargo processing functions.
CBP officers screen all visitors that enter the U.S. and must be able to not only exercise patience and thoughtful judgment but remain cool-tempered, even when provoked.
Other border patrol job requirements include:
- U.S. Citizenship
- Possession of a valid driver’s license
- Be under the age of 40 (some veteran exceptions)
- Speak Spanish
- Pass medical, drug, and fitness tests
- Pass a thorough background investigation
Applying for a CBP Position in Illinois
Individuals who meet the above requirements can apply online for an appointment to take the entrance examination that is the first step in the recruitment process. All new recruits take part in a rigorous training program that includes physical fitness and firearms training as well as courses in such subjects as immigration/nationality law, criminal law, Spanish (if needed), contraband detection, defense tactics, border patrol operations and anti-terrorist methods.
Salaries of Border Patrol Jobs in Illinois
Starting salaries vary depending upon the new recruit’s experience and education. Persons with a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and/or experience in a law enforcement related job are more likely to start at a higher grade level. Annual starting salaries are:
- GL5 – $38,619
- GL7 – $43,964
- GL9 – $49,029
All agents/officers have ample opportunities to earn overtime pay.