U.S. Border Patrol agents are charged with preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States. They are responsible for preventing the unlawful entry of undocumented aliens and apprehending those in violation of the immigration laws.
The Border Patrol is responsible for patrolling 6,000 miles of Canadian and Mexican international borders and 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula and Puerto Rico.
Border Patrol Agent Requirements
Applicants must be under 40 years of age, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the United States. Fluency in Spanish or the ability to learn Spanish is often required. You must possess a valid driver’s license and pass a background investigation, medical examination, fitness test, and pass a drug test.
You may also be asked to take a polygraph examination.
Border Patrol Education and Training
New agents must complete a 55 day basic training at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico. Training may include immigration and nationality laws, Spanish, physical training and marksmanship.
Those new hires that need Spanish language instruction will be required to complete an additional 40 days of training.
Border Patrol Agents agree to random drug testing, overtime and shift work and to remain proficient in the use of firearms. Relocation to short term temporary assignments or permanent reassignments may be required on short notice.
Border Patrol Agent Salary
New agents are paid a special salary rate for Federal law enforcement personnel with starting salaries of $36,658 to $46,542 with excellent potential for overtime pay. The excellent Federal government benefits package is available as well as a uniform allowance of $1500 per year.
During training, you will earn your regular salary and have free lodging and meals provided at the Academy.
Overtime pay can be lucrative as agents may earn from 10% to 25% additional pay for extra duty time and also receive night deferential pay, Sunday and Holiday pay.
U.S. Border Patrol Career Opportunities
The U.S. Border Patrol has gone through a phase of unprecedented growth since 9/11. For those with skill and ambition, the opportunities for advancement in the Border Patrol are excellent.
The emphasis on drug interdiction has increased the number of positions available as K-9 handlers. Not every duty station has dogs and most of the dogs used by the Border Patrol are not trained for attack but for the detection of human and narcotic scents. Agents who become canine handlers are responsible for the care and kenneling of the dog assigned as his partner.
The work week consists of 40 hours of a regular schedule plus up to 10 more hours referred to as Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime. The AUO time is time spent completing paperwork processing, overlap of shift changes and other tasks that can’t be scheduled and is the reason Border Patrol Agents earn up to 25% above their base salary.
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