How to Become a Border Services Officer

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Becoming a border services officer can be an excellent career choice for you if have a strong desire to prevent inadmissible people, contraband and other illegal substances from coming into your country.

 

If you have such a desire, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details of this career, including an overview of what these officers do, how much they can earn, and what you’ll need to qualify. 

 

 

Education You Might Need

The minimal educational requirement for becoming a BSO (or a CBPO in the United States) is a high school diploma.

 

Although it may not be considered a formal requirement, having post-secondary education in a field related to law enforcement is considered a strong asset, especially when coupled with related work experience.

 

 

 

 

Experience Needed 

Having experience in certain areas will be considered an asset. In general, this includes experience in one or more of the following areas:

 

• Measuring compliance and imposing penalties or sanctions for violations

• Gathering information in an investigative setting or pressure situation

• Obtaining information through the use of interviewing and examination techniques

• Providing advice or service to the general public

• Processing and handling import or export documentation

 

 

General Job Description

So, what is a border services officer anyway? What do they do? Well, simply put, a border services officer (known as a Customs and Border Protection Officer in the United States) is responsible for administering and enforcing the customs related laws and regulations of a country.

 

Essentially, they control the movement of people, vehicles and goods into and out of that country; they are one of the first points of contact when travelers and goods arrive in the host country.

 

Since they are the contact for visitors, they are first line of defence in preventing inadmissible people, contraband and other illegal substances from coming into the country. When necessary, BSOs carry out enforcement activities, which may include detaining individuals and groups of people, or carrying out sanctions including issuing warnings and monetary penalties, and by seizing goods and assets. 

 

 

Typical Job Duties

As a border services officer you would be responsible for performing several key duties in order to do your job effectively. These key responsibilities include:

 

• Interview travelers and examine their travel and identification documents

• Detain people are deemed to pose a threat to the country

• Remove individuals who are not admissible to the country, such as those who have been convicted of crimes

• Safeguard against the introduction of human, animal and plant diseases into the country

• Guard against the flow of illegal goods, such as narcotics, firearms and child pornography

• Ensure that proper duties and taxes are collected on imported goods

• Conduct customs related investigations

• Protect food safety and the environment by stopping prohibited or hazardous products arriving at air, land or seaports

• Maintain information databases

• Work closely with other BSO’s, as well as local and federal law enforcement agencies 

 

 

Average Salary Level

The salary level you could earn as a border service officer can vary, but not by a whole lot. In the beginning of your career, you would earn a trainee salary, and would likely see a higher salary once you successfully complete your training, and become a full-fledged officer. As you gain experience, and move into positions of greater responsibility, you would also move into a higher pay grade.

 

Your salary could also vary based on the region in which you will be working, the level of education you have. It’s also worth noting that since you would be employed by the federal government, you would also likely receive a great benefits package in addition to you salary. These benefits may include (but not limited to):

 

• Health benefits

• Dental benefits

• Pension package

• Disability insurance

 

CBSA Officer Salary (Canada): According to the Canada Border Services Agency, the salary range for a border services officer trainee is currently between $58,078 and $64,859 per year. The salary range for a non-trainee officer is currently between $62,697 and $70,120.

 

CBP Officer Salary (United States): According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Customs and Border Protection Officer position starts at a salary of $31,944 per year, with promotion potential to $70,192.

 

 

Key Requirements: Prerequisites

Now you should have a pretty good idea of what you’ll be doing as a BSO, or a CBPO. The first step to take if you still want to become one, is ensure that you meet (or can meet) certain basic requirements, which include:

 

Canada
 

• Must possess the Standard First Aid certification

• Must have and maintain a valid driver's license

• Must successfully complete the Agency's physical abilities evaluation

• Must be willing to work various shifts, including weekends, statutory holidays, and work overtime (as required)

• Must be willing to wear and maintain a uniform

• Must be willing to operate a government vehicle

• Must be bilingual in French and English (depending on the posting)

• Must pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) and pass the tests, OR simply challenge and pass both tests


 

United States
 

• You must be a U.S. citizen

• You must have resided in the U.S. for the last 3 years

• Must be younger than 37th at the time of selection (may be waived in certain circumstances)

• You must be able to successfully pass a polygraph examination

• You must be able to successfully pass a background investigation

• Convictions of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are disqualifying

• You must be willing to carry a firearm

• You must have a valid driver's license

• You must be willing work regular and recurring shift work

• You must be able to meet job-related medical, fitness and drug-testing standards

• May be required to have working knowledge of Spanish

 


 

 

 

Characteristics of Successful Border Services Officers

Will you be able to meet the prerequisites of this career? If so, the next step is to determine if you will be personally compatible with this career.

 

Having the right personality for the job is not only something employers will look for, it is something that will ensure that you are happy in your work. There are a variety of characteristics that will help you succeed in this field, which apply to you?

 

• Good oral and written communication skills

• Good decision making skills

• Physical fitness

• An interest in law enforcement

• Able to deal effectively with the public

• Confidence

• Enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for your work

• Enjoy analyzing information

• An interest in having the opportunity to determine admissibility of goods and people into your country

 

 

Areas of Specialization in This Profession

Because border protection services have such a diverse mandate, an officer can choose to specialize in a wide variety of areas. For example, as a BSO or CBPO, you can choose to pursue career opportunities in specialty areas such as the following:

 

• Client services

• Compliance verification

• Detector dog services

• Intelligence

• International operations

• Investigations

• Management and administration

• Program services

 

 

Who Creates Jobs for BSOs?

The federal government employs border services officers. In Canada, the branch of government that employs them is the Canada Border Services Agency.

 

In the United States, they are employed by the Customs and Border Protection Agency (a division of the Department of Homeland Security). It is also worth mentioning that in the U.S. a border services officer goes by a different title: Customs and Border Protection Officer.

 

 

Border Services Officer Job Opportunities

You should now have a pretty good idea of what you'll be doing as a border services officer, and what it takes to become one. Ready to apply for some jobs? Visit our job board to browse border services officer and customs and border protection officer job postings.


 

Border Services Officer Jobs - Canada

 

Customs and Border Protection Officer Jobs - United States

 


 

Career Advancement in This Line of Work

To advance your career as a border services officer, you could either move into a position of greater responsibility, or you could become a specialist in a certain area.

 

For example, opportunities for advancement may include moving into customs supervision, management or administration, or moving into specialized areas such as investigations, intelligence, detector dog services, trade compliance verification, program services or international operations.

 

Promotion within this field is very competitive. So to be promoted, you will have to display a high degree of competence, initiative, and an excellent employment record. 

 

 

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Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Border Services Officer, as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities.

 

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Police Officer: Responsible for maintaining law and order within a municipality in order to protect the public. Police officers must detect and prevent crimes, detain criminals and enforce laws.

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References

To find out more about what a border services officer does, what prerequisites you’ll need to qualify, how much you could earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:

 

Canada Border Services Agency website: www.cbsa.asfc.gc.ca

U.S. Customs and Border Protection website: www.cpv.gov

 

 

Relevant Scholarships

Looking for scholarships to help you on your way to becoming a border services officer? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:

 

• On academicinvest.com, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Applicable Majors” section below shows majors that apply to this career

• Visit our Criminal Justice Scholarships and Criminology Scholarships pages to find scholarships sorted by those majors

 

 

Relevant University Majors

The university majors below are applicable to a career as a border services officer, as they can teach you relevant skills and competencies. Click on the majors to find out what other careers are applicable to them!

 


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