Who are Custom Agents?

Custom Agents are responsible for protecting the borders and inspect people who are entering or leaving the country. Law enforcement agents, it’s the job of custom agents to check luggage and imported goods, along with the cargo that’s transported in ships, planes, and trains.

Their other responsibilities include investigating money laundering, drug smuggling, and enforcing the provisions of Arms Export Control Act. In the United States, Custom Agents work for the Department of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) which is a subdivision of Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To pursue career as custom agent, a person must have at least an associate’s degree and preferably a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.

Education & Career Info

Education & Career Info

Education RequiredBachelor’s Degree
Training Required15 weeks training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Key SkillsPatience, problem solving, quick response to pressure situations, languages, firearms, communication skills
Job Growth (2020-2030)6%
Average Median Salary (2020)$71,100 per year

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Customs Agent

Custom Agents are often presented with challenges like dealing with dangerous people, criminals, and security threats. To become a custom agent, formal degree is required in law and criminal justice. The following steps will guide you in how to become a custom agent.

Earn a College Degree

  • Those interested in the field are required to pursue a degree in criminal justice, security management, or psychology. Many individuals prefer to earn a bachelor’s degree to gain knowledge in law enforcement.
  • During the course, students are required to learn foreign languages so that they can easily communicate with people at borders. Most schools teach Spanish.
  • Students are taught about legal issues, drugs and crime, and criminal behavior.

Meet Basic Requirements

  • All future customs agents must meet eligibility requirements that include being a minimum of 21 years of age and a US resident for at least 3 years.
  • Candidates above 40 years of age can’t apply for the position of custom agent. There can be some exceptions, which include person being a veteran or served in military.
  • Candidates are required to pass background check, medical, and physical test.

Application and Entrance Test

  • The next step is to apply on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website.
  • Once the application is accepted, candidates can schedule entrance exams that include Video Based Test (VBT) followed by an interview.

Complete Training

  • Custom Agents are required to undergo training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. It is located in Glynco, Georgia.
  • A 15-week program, it trains custom agents in inspection techniques, learning different firearms skills, and going through practical scenarios to prepare for on-the-job situations.

Getting Hired

  • Once the training is complete. Custom agents can apply for jobs anywhere in the 300 locations available.
  • The best place to search for jobs is US Border Patrol and Customs website (www.cbp.gov).
  • The possible job titles for this career are Custom Agents, Customs and Border Patrol Agent, Customs and Border Protection Officers, and Customs Officer.

Custom Agents Salary and Career Outlook

Typically, customs agents start their careers at the GS-5 or GS-7 level. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average customs officer salary in the United States is $71,100 (2020). O*Net Online forecasts up to 6% increase in wages and employment opportunities for customs agents between 2020 and 2030.