Import Specialist Careers

U.S. Customs & Border Protection is charged with ensuring the safety and legality of all incoming merchandise and materials, as well as authorizing only approved goods, equipment and technology for export.  The CBP Import Specialists who monitor all traffic through the country’s airports, seaports, and border crossings utilize a wide array of technical and legal expertise to confirm that no hazardous or sensitive materials enter or leave the country without authorization.

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Import Specialists inspect the billions of dollars’ worth of consumer goods, raw materials and shipping conveyances to ensure that Weapons of Mass Destruction like biological, chemical and nuclear materials are not allowed entry.  They also carefully monitor all incoming shipments for narcotics, flora or fauna that may harm Native American crops or ecosystems, and smuggled humans.

Import Specialist Job Description

Import Specialist jobs involve performing the following duties:

  • Develop expertise in a specialized area of commodity goods
  • Coordinate inspection and approval duties with other Import Specialists and law enforcement officers
  • Inspect manifests and documents pertaining to imports or exports
  • Physically inspect air, ship and ground conveyances
  • Maintain current knowledge about national security threats and criminal activity related to imports and exports
  • Confiscate goods or materials that have been prohibited by U.S. law
  • Detain and question individuals who exhibit suspicious or questionable behavior
  • Notify crisis response personnel upon discovery of hazardous materials
  • Train new or incoming personnel about the inspection protocols and regulations pertinent to a facility
  • Store and monitor hazardous or illicit materials until they can be removed by federal police

A Higher Level of Professionalism

Import specialist jobs require these professionals to demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism and attentiveness as they carry out these critical national security responsibilities. They must perform a wide range of search and interdiction responsibilities that shield the United States from significant threats to the country’s security, public safety, and the economy.  Preventing the entry of these hazardous materials may save countless lives as well as the ongoing viability of major industries like agriculture, food production and pharmaceuticals.

These highly trained and qualified professionals must interact with numerous travelers, dignitaries and business people from around the world on a daily basis. During the course of these thousands of interactions, Import Specialists are expected to display the courtesy and decorum appropriate for an officer of the United States government, while still evaluating each visitor for any suspicious behavior.

Import Specialist Salary and Job Benefits

According to, an Import Specialist may receive a salary ranging from $68.809 up to $89,450.  This corresponds to the GS-12 pay grade. This salary may be adjusted with a cost of living increase. Careers in this field are typically capped at GS-12 or GS-13 unless the Import Specialist obtains a supervisory, instructor or executive positions within U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In addition to a lucrative salary, Import Specialists also receive a generous benefits package that includes

  • Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) –There a variety of health insurance plans available
  • Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) – This optional plan covers expenses related to vision and dental care and maintenance
  • Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)
  • Federal Long Term Care Insurance (LTC)
  • SAMBA Employee Benevolent Fund—This provides $17,500 in benefits in the case of death while employed for an annual payment of $26 or $35,000 in benefits for $52.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts—This provides tax free savings to help defray medical and dependent care expenses
  • Full Retirement according to the FERS or CSRS program, which becomes available after 30 years of service
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)—Enables employees to set aside funds for retirement like a 401k

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

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