US Border Patrol Agent Career Guide


Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) are widely known for working especially towards enforcement of federal laws to secure international borders as well as coastal waters. Border Patrol Agents have an important role in safeguarding US citizens from illegal entry of terrorists, drug trafficking or weapons. Border patrol agents (BPAs) are either placed at international borders of two major cities, Mexico and Canada or along the coastal waters present in Florida & Puerto Rico. A Border Patrol Agent needs to enforce the US Customs as well as Border Protection laws to prevent any kind of illegitimate trade across international borders or coastal waters. A Border Patrol Agent has a variety of opportunities for growth in careers, such as Horse Patrol, Riverine operations, supervisory positions, and K-9 unit. To know more about BPAs, keep reading the US Border Patrol Agent Career Guide.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Border Patrol Agent 

The Border Patrol Agents are provided with a set of highly advanced technology tools for carrying out their duties. Some of these tools are electronic sensors, aircraft, infrared scopes and television systems. Border Patrol Agents might need to give their inputs to the US courts for immigration issues of a citizen. The Border Patrol Agents are trained to deal with extreme situations such as handling an armed criminal or a terrorist. There is a lot of similarity in the duties of a Border Patrol Agent and a CBP officer (Custom & Border Protection). The Custom & Protection officer works primarily for facilitating the smooth flow of legitimate entry of goods and individuals in the US. Border Patrol Agents have the responsibility to monitor international borders and coastal waters to prevent illegal entry of terrorists, weapons or drugs.

Qualifications to be a Border Patrol Agent

For becoming a Border Patrol Agent, one must have the following qualification:

  • The age of the candidate must be less than 40 years at the time of applying for becoming a Border Patrol Agent (or the candidate must be qualified to receive an age waiver according to the federal civilian law enforcement experience) 
  • The candidate must have a driver’s license
  • The candidate should be a US citizen
  • The candidate must be living in the US for at least 3 years in the past 5 years, or unless he is qualified for being a military exception.
  • The candidate must hold eligibility for carrying a firearm
  • Although it’s not a necessary requirement, it is better if the candidate has a degree (Bachelor’s/Masters) in either criminal justice/Homeland Security or has possessed work experience in this field (A candidate who has education or work experience has the chance to get higher pay level)

Step by Step Process to be hired as a BPA


  1. If you want to become a Border Patrol Agent, you should attain either a degree (Bachelor’s/Masters) in criminal justice/Homeland Security or gain work experience in this field.
  2. You can start by applying on the USAJOBS website. 
  3. The next step is to qualify the Entrance Exam of CBP Border Patrol. You can pick any location for giving your entrance exam. Check out, to go through study guides for preparing the Entrance Exam. 
  4. The CBD Border Patrol Entrance Exam is waived for candidates who are entering at the GL-9 level or any higher level. 
  5. You must make sure that your resume is properly formatted before submitting on the USAJOBS website. 
  6. The next step is to submit for a background investigation.
  7. Then you must qualify the medical screening.
  8. Next, you must qualify the fitness tests.
  9. After you have passed in your fitness tests, you will be evaluated on the basis of your skills such as decision making and interpersonal. This evaluation will be conducted through a structured interview by the board of Border Patrol Agents.
  10. Qualify for the polygraph exam and then after passing the drug test, you will be hired as a Border Patrol Agent.
  11. You will be receiving on-the-job training after you get hired as a Border Patrol Agent.

On the Job Training of a BPA

After getting hired as a Border Patrol Agent, one must pass the training for 19 weeks in New Mexico. This training is held at Border Patrol Academy in Artesia. The on-the-job training of a Border Patrol Agent comprises of firearms use, immigration laws, nationality laws, and physical training. In order to pass the on-the-job training, a candidate must maintain at least a 70% average score. If a candidate does not speak Spanish, then he must also undergo a special Spanish language training program at the Academy. In the end, all the candidates must pass a fitness test at the Border Patrol Academy.

Job Titles for BPAs Career Growth

Border Patrol Agents must have a good hold on English as well as the Spanish language. The four job titles for a BPA are mentioned below:

  • Border Guard
  • Border Patrol Guard
  • Border Patrol Officer
  • Patrol Agent

BPA Salary 

The Salary of a Border Patrol Agent depends upon the current General Schedule payscale mentioned on the website of the US Office of Personnel Management. According to the salaries mentioned on the USAJOBS website, a Border Patrol Agent earns between $41,000 – $90,000 in one year. The pay scale of a Border Patrol Agent varies depending on the education (Bachelor’s/Masters) in criminal justice/Homeland Security or work experience. Even if you don’t have a degree in criminal justice/Homeland Security or work experience, you will get a lot of opportunities to scale up your salary by working overtime or through salary incentives. 



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