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How to Become a Border Patrol Agent

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency is one of the world's largest law enforcement organizations. One of its main duties is border security. The CBP employs Border Patrol Agents along the borders of the United States, at all ports of entry, as well as in the air and at sea. Becoming a Border Patrol Agent is a rigorous and competitive process, with only the most qualified personnel getting the job. Some CBP job listings are open to the public. Others are restricted to current or former Federal employees, or current CBP employees only.

Basic Qualifications

You must be under 37 years old, a U.S. citizen, fluent in Spanish (or able to learn the language) and possess a valid state driver's license to become a border patrol agent. All applicants must successfully pass the CBP Border Patrol entrance examination, a three-part test that measures logical reasoning skills and Spanish language skills and assesses job-related experiences and achievements. Other pre-employment requirements include a medical examination, background investigation, polygraph test, drug test, oral interview and two fitness tests. The first fitness test (PFT-1) is conducted along with your medical exam. The second (PFT-2) is taken 30 days prior to your entrance on duty.

Education and Experience

An applicant's education or experience, or a combination of education and experience, will determine what rank she enters the border patrol. For instance, the CBP website notes that applicants for the GL-5 level either need a bachelor's degree in any discipline or "a substantial background of experience that demonstrates the ability to take charge, make decisions, and maintain composure in stressful situations." To qualify for a GL-7 level, applicants must have one year of law enforcement experience or one full year of graduate education related to law enforcement. Education cannot be used to qualify GL-9 level applicants. Instead, applicants must have at least one year of law enforcement experience and be able to demonstrate abilities in police procedures such as interrogations, firearm conduct, management and organization skills, as well as knowledge of law enforcement software.