Customs and Border Protection Officer Careers

An Officer in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection fulfills a variety of roles and responsibilities critical to the safety and security of the United States.  As law enforcement officials, CBP Officers inspect goods and individuals passing through the nation’s airports, seaports and border crossings with the intent to deny entry to illegal materials, weapons of terrorism, suspected terrorists and unauthorized foreign nationals.  In order to successfully carry out these responsibilities, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection hires only the most qualified and dedicated professionals to fill CBP Officer Jobs.

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CBP Officer Job Description

In order to detect and interdict terrorists, criminals and contraband materials CBP Officers will utilize an array of detection and investigatory tools including metal detectors, chemical sniffers, Geiger counters, canine units and interrogations. CBP officers will supervise and support anti-terrorism operations with the intent to identify and apprehend threats to the United States.  The US CBP will coordinate efforts with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Department of Defense and other federal, state and local agencies to ensure that America’s points of entry remain closed to unauthorized and prohibited personnel and materials.

CBP Officers are front line personnel who inspect ships, planes, passengers, luggage, trucks, automobiles and any other conveyances which may harbor a threat.  If a threat is detected, suspects are interrogated, checked, and detained, while threat responses are implemented, including material containment and facility evacuations.

A CBP Officer is expected to fulfill the following responsibilities during job performance

  • Question all personnel entering the United States as to their intended activities, required documentation or purpose in entry
  • Perform physical checks of cargo, vehicles and visitors
  • Examine cargo containers using visual confirmation of manifest lists, canine detectives, and radiation detectors
  • Perform thorough examinations of trucks and vehicles containing goods
  • Investigate any suspicious behavior, luggage or packages
  • Conduct immigration and document checks to ensure the proper visas, passports and entry permits are present
  • Administer a “secondary inspection”, in which a questionable traveler is comprehensively interrogated
  • Arrest, detain and transfer criminals or suspects to local, state or federal detention facilities

Salary and Career Benefits

The salary range for a CBP Officer is substantial.  While some divisions within the US CBP allow Officers to obtain Grade Level 11 at the end of their career, which comes with an annual salary of between $50,287 and $65,371 as of 2012, many CBP officer careers begin with a GS-5 salary, which precludes the possibility of complete progression.  Many of these entry level positions with a GS-5 or GS-7 rating will provide salaries ranging from $27,431 up to $54,028 per year.  These base salaries may be modified significantly by working overtime, night shifts or Sundays.  Overtime pay is twice the normal hourly wage, while night time pay is 15 percent more, and Sundays is 50 percent above normal pay.

The federal employee benefits that come with a CBP Officer career are considerable.  In addition to health, dental and vision plans, officers have life insurance and long term care insurance plans available to them.  Upon completion of the 15 weeks of paid training, CBP officers immediately begin accruing paid leave days with a maximum cap that grows as the officer’s career matures.   There is also tuition assistance, flexible work schedules and teleworking options.

Among the many benefits of serving the United States as a front line officer are enhanced retirement benefits.  In 2011, the federal Office of Personnel Management announced that CBP Officers will now earn annuity benefits more quickly and may retire early like firefighters and other law enforcement officials. These retirement benefits may accrue at 2.5 percent annually under the Civil Service Retirement Act or 1.7 percent annually under the Federal Employee Retirement Service.

For more about becoming a CBP officer, click here.

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