Customs Agent

How to Become a Customs Agent
Job Duties of a Customs Agent
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Customs Agent
Salaries of Customs Agents
Influential Professional Customs Agents
Leading Customs Agent Organizations
Top Cities for Customs Agent Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Customs Agent

Basic requirements for any position as a customs agent include proof of US citizenship; a residency requirement of living in the United States or one of its territories, or working for a Federal agency for the last three years; a background security check; and drug testing. Specific requirements vary based on the position desired by an applicant, but most jobs require a bachelor's degree in a law enforcement field, related work experience, or a combination of the two. In addition, all Federal law enforcement employees undergo extensive training usually either at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia or the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.

What does a Customs Agent do?

United States customs agents are Federal law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing over 400 custom's laws as well as laws for other Federal agencies. Agents enforce custom's laws on every person and thing that comes into the United States. Some enforcement situations include confiscating items that should not enter the country, making sure import duties are paid, and preventing people without proper legal authorization from entering. Customs agents are present in every airport and at every border crossing in the United States. Today, customs agents work for the Department of Homeland Security under the department of Customs and Border Protection and hold the most authority of any law enforcement agency in the country.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Customs Agent?

Civil service regulations govern the appointment of customs agents. Individuals must be citizens of the United States, at least twenty years old, and meet strict physical and personal standards. Physical exams usually include tests of vision and hearing as well as strength and agility. Personal characteristics of honesty, integrity, judgment, and responsibility are vitally important among law enforcement professionals. Aspiring customs agents should enjoy meeting and working with people.

How much do Custom Agents make?

New agents are hired levels five, seven, or nine depending on education and experience. Currently, the GL-5 base starting salary is $36,658 per year, the GL-7 base starting salary is $41,729 per year, and the GL-9 base starting salary is $46,542 per year. Eligibility for promotions usually begins after a six and half month probationary period. All levels have excellent opportunities for overtime pay and some agents are eligible for location specific pay.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

David V. Aguilar is the current Customs and Border Protection chief. He assumed the position on July 1, 2004. He came to the job with thirty years of service in the field of border patrol. He is responsible for the efforts of more than 16,500 United States border agents nationwide. Before becoming the nation's highest ranking border patrol agent, Aguilar was the Chief Patrol Agent of the Tucson Sector. From 1996 to 1999 Aguilar served as the Assistant Regional Director for Border Patrol in the Central Region for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which no longer exists. Prior to that, he was Patrol Agent in Charge at three different border stations, including the Rio Grande City Station (one of the most active stations for narcotics confiscations) and the Brownsville Station (the largest border patrol station in the region at the time). Michael C. Kostelnik is the Assistant Commissioner at the Office of Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine. He is a retired Major General of the United States Airforce. Kostelnik has worked for the United States government for over thirty-five years, as the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Space Station and Space Shuttle just prior to his current position within the CBP. He also had a prominent career in the Airforce, accumulating over 3,300 hours of flight time in over 60 types of aircraft. Kostelnik has been honored with many awards including the Defense Distinguished Medal and a 2007 Presidential Rank Award.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the largest and most complex organization within the Department of Homeland Security. It is the nation's single, unified border agency. Its primary mission is to keep terrorists and their weapons out of the United States. It also protects the borders of the United States from human and drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and agricultural pests. This branch of the Federal government is also responsible for the efficient facilitation of legitimate trade and travel as well as the enforcement of the custom's laws of the United States. CPB guards 7,000 miles of land borders, 2,000 miles of coastal waters, and shares responsibility with the U.S. Coast Guard for an additional 95,000 miles of maritime border. This organization sees itself as vital to the protection of the American people and the national economy.

What are the top cities for Customs Agent jobs?

One of the top cities for aspiring customs agents to find work is New York, New York. It is followed closely by Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, California, and Chicago, Illinois. Another city with good job prospects in this field is Columbia, South Carolina.

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