The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is sworn to protect the nation’s borders while facilitating legitimate international travel and trade, including preventing terrorists from entering the country illegally or bringing dangerous pests into the country. The agency employs over 20,000 agents working in 328 ports of entry along the border and other locations.
In addition to their sworn duties, CBP agents also conduct inspections at the ports of entry to detect and detain illegal immigrants. They also carry out city patrol and traffic checks along major highways to prevent unauthorized travel.
Patrol agents must complete extensive training before they are sworn in, and they often receive their first field experience on the Mexico-United States border. Depending on the sector they are assigned to, they spend anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks in field training before returning to their duty stations for further classroom-based training.
Physical Requirements for Border Patrol Agents
For most jobs in the United States, federal agencies require candidates to pass a pre-employment fitness test, or PFT, to determine their physical condition and ability to perform their job tasks. The examination is designed to determine whether candidates are physically fit and healthy and to identify any medical conditions that may be a risk to their job performance or the safety of others.
Applicants who cannot pass the PFT will be disqualified, and those who have failed the pre-employment drug test or polygraph exam are subject to additional investigations. These background investigations include reviewing police and public records, credit checks, and interviews with former employers.
Qualifications for a U.S. Border Patrol Officer
To become a Border Patrol agent, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited college or university and a minimum of six months of previous law enforcement experience. They must also complete the Border Patrol Academy, which consists of several classroom-based training sessions.
The Border Patrol Academy prepares trainees to become Border Patrol agents by educating them about the agency and its mission. Its curriculum covers basic and advanced subjects. The curriculum also includes a study of Spanish and other foreign languages.
Aside from the academy, training for a U.S. Border Patrol agent includes several other components. The first is the initial field training program, which is led by a Field Training Officer and takes place over six to eight weeks at the agents’ duty station. The academy is followed by the Post-Academy Training Program, where Trainees complete additional classroom-based training over nine months at their duty station.