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U.S. Border Patrol Agents – Working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Every time we turn on the news today border control and immigration is a hot news topic. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing our border monthly and flooding the already overtaxed customs and border protection services. Major immigration overall is a legislative priority as the new arrivals and the 11 million or so undocumented residents must be dealt with. There are many border patrol job opportunities currently available and many more to come as necessary funding is approved to improve border security.

Have you ever wondered what a U.S. Border Patrol Agent really does?  This article will explore various facets of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service. With over 60,000 employees, CBP, is one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the world. It’s missions is to keep terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating international trade and travel within the guidelines of our laws. Border Patrol is a department within CBP.

In part one of the series; we will cover what it is like to work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service, featuring U.S. Border Patrol Agents. Part two of the series will cover the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer.

Prior to1921 border control was not an apparent priority for the U.S. Government.  Things changed when on January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the making, importation, and distribution of alcohol beverages became effective. Additionally, the U.S. Government was limiting the number of immigrants coming to the United States.

Because of these two events, protecting the U.S. border was becoming more important and in 1924, the U.S. Border Patrol was established. Its mission is to be “guardians of our nation’s borders”.  Initially the U.S. Border Patrol only staffed  inspection stations and in 1925 seaports were added. Their role has expanded over the years and today, it is called U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service is the guardian of our nation’s borders and safeguard the American homeland at and beyond our borders. While living in Arizona, in the Sierra Vista area, (60 miles from the Mexico border), whenever I would travel to Tucson, I encountered several U.S. Border Patrol Agents.  They would inspect underneath the vehicle and ask to see my ID. I was grateful for what they were doing to protect our nation.

A U.S Border Patrol Agent must be a U.S. citizen, have a valid driver’s license, and pass the CBP Border Patrol examination. They must also either know or learn to speak Spanish, and their application is assessed for relevant job-related experiences and achievements.  Review the GS-1896 Qualification Standard for  complete information on how to qualify for positions from entry level to higher grade positions.

Additionally, U.S. Border Patrol Agents must be under 37 years of age, the pay grades go from GS-1896-05 to GS-1896-12, the education can range from high school to a masters degree depending upon the job.  Agents must pass a thorough background check, medical examination, drug test, and fitness test.  New hires are sent for 55 days of training at the CBP Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, N.M. The training includes immigration and nationality regulations and laws, Spanish, physical fitness and marksmanship.  There is an additional 40 days for those who need to master Spanish.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents must work overtime and shift work hours often under very harsh conditions and they are subject to random drug tests. Their assignments can be for a short duration or permanent reassignments to any duty location. Every Agent starts their assignments along the Southwest border. They are ultimately responsible for preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S. border, and can confiscate various items that maybe smuggled into our country.

For this article, I interviewed three U.S. Border Patrol Agents from varied backgrounds; all were GS-12s and they replied to the following questions:

  1. Name of Agent, job title and grade.
  2. Why did you join the Border Patrol?
  3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  4. What would you say to a young person that would make them want to      work for the Border Patrol?

Here are the interviewee’s answers:

1.  Name of Agent, job title, and grade.

Jacopo Bruni, Border Patrol Agent, GS-12

2.  Why did you join the Border Patrol?

I always had an interest in Law Enforcement. As a recent college graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, I was looking for a career that would bring adventure, challenges, and satisfaction. The Border Patrol gave me the opportunity to work in my field of study, to see and live in a new part of the country, and to be part of something bigger: the agency responsible with protecting America at the frontline.

3.  What is the most rewarding part of your job?

There are many challenges in the environment we work in. I have found that if you want to be successful, you must work as a team.  The most rewarding part of my career is taking on a difficult task with a team of hard working individuals with different backgrounds to overcome challenges and accomplish goals.

4.  What would you say to a young person that would make them want to work for the Border Patrol?

If you are an ambitious, hardworking, and persistent person, you are off to a good start, because you will need all these traits to be successful.  Our core values are Integrity, Vigilance, and Service to Country. If these align with your own personal values, you will find this career very rewarding.

1.    Name of Agent, job title and grade.

Michael Scappechio, Border Patrol Agent, GS-12

2.    Why did you join the Border Patrol?

Ever since I was a young kid, I knew, and was told by others, that I would work in public service. I had always considered law enforcement, but began to pursue a path in Emergency Medical Response and firefighting.  When I was 18, I began volunteering for a city fire department. Within the department, I met a Border Patrol Agent who explained his career to me. The pride he exuded for the work he did, and the stories that he told made the United States Border Patrol an instant attraction.

3.    What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Simple. Every day is different, and every day is spent with professionals who share a common goal and passion for their work. I am confident that this career will continue to provide this type of work environment for the long haul. In addition, the laws that we enforce and the strategies that deploy are designed to protect America at the first line of defense. Being a part of the effort to protect this country gives me great pride.

 4.    What would you say to a young person that would make them want to work for the Border Patrol?

I was young when the Border Patrol accepted me into their work force. The agency has provided me invaluable skills such as interpersonal, organizational, leadership and public speaking skills. They trusted me, and judged me by my performance, not my age. They provided me premier training, and continue to do so on a regular basis. Through our valuable mentorship program, and career-growth resources, advancement opportunities continue to present themselves. The sky’s the limit. For these reasons, I feel an overwhelming sense of loyalty and appreciation for my agency. They’ll have to kick me out.

1.    Name of Agent, job title and grade.

Matthew Trombley, Border Patrol Agent, GS-12

2.    Why did you join the Border Patrol?

I wanted to join the Border Patrol because every Border Patrol Agent I ever spoke with really enjoyed their job. The wide range of opportunities the Border Patrol offered really interested me. For example, the average Border Patrol Agent has opportunity to perform a vast array of duties such as line watch duties, checkpoint duties, boat patrol, bike patrol, horse patrol, ATV patrols, sensor duties, prosecutions duties the list goes on.

3.    What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Each day as a United States Border Patrol Agent will present itself with various unknown challenges. Overcoming these challenges and gaining experience how to deal with the next challenge while completing the mission of the Border Patrol is very rewarding.

4.    What would you say to a young person that would make them want to work for the Border Patrol?           

I really enjoy my job with the Border Patrol. The Border Patrol is more than a  job it will be a job you will want as a career and a job that will become a way of life.

Part two of this series is about CBP Officers. Here are several links, one is to a vacancy announcement specifically for CBP Officers, and the other talks about their hiring initiatives:

The men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are our first defense against our borders from terrorists and others whom may want to do harm to the United States.  Their dedication, loyalty, and integrity are unsurpassed in the fight against enemies both foreign and domestic.

If you are interested in a border patrol job you should explore your options and also consider  related federal law enforcement jobs in your area. Seek out all federal job announcements and apply for any vacancy that you meet the basic qualifications for.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.


About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.