Border Patrol Agent

Being a Border Patrol Agent is one of the most exciting careers available to individuals who want to serve and protect their country. Individuals are drawn to this position because of their excellent starting salaries and benefits as well as its positive working environment and opportunities for advancement. Additionally, many prospective agents are enticed by the ability to see America’s beautiful landscapes from atop a four-wheel-drive truck, a mountain bike, a patrol boat, an ATV, a snowmobile and any other means of transportation necessary to traverse and protect America’s rugged borders.

What Does a Border Patrol Agent Do?

A Border Patrol Agent is a law enforcement officer operating under the oversight of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency or CBP. As a division of the Department of Homeland Security, officers and agents are tasked with rigorous oversight, surveillance and policing of U.S. international borders with Mexico, Canada and the coastline near Florida and Puerto Rico.

Prevent Illegal Entry & Conduct Investigations

Agents are responsible for ensuring that no unauthorized persons enter the United States illegally. They also conduct investigations related to the trafficking or smuggling of people, narcotics or firearms across U.S. borders. Border Patrol offices frequently collaborate and share resources with other federal, state and local agencies including the DEA, the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security Investigations and State Police. In conjunction with other Homeland Security Divisions and law enforcement agencies, Border Patrol agents prevent or prosecute thousands of potentially dangerous individuals who attempt to illegally gain entry to the United States.

Monitoring & Surveillance

Many Border Patrol Agents oversee traffic checkpoints along routes that lead from other nations’ territories into the United States. Others are responsible for “Linewatch,” surveillance of the border space to identify threats through direct observation or via sensor alerts. Still, other agents are tasked with “Signcutting,” outdoor forensics with the intention to identify prior border breaches through physical signs like vehicle tracks or damaged brush. Marine patrols, border patrols, and transportation checks are also common duties.

Where Does a Border Patrol Agent Work?

Border Patrol Agents can be found anywhere along the roughly 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders or the 2,000 miles of Southeast coast forming the international border near Florida and Puerto Rico.

The vast majority of Border Patrol Agents are stationed along the Mexican-American border, especially in areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California.

Where Does a Border Patrol Agent Work?

Starting salary and other pay is based on the qualifications of the applicant. The base pay is known as GL-5 and corresponds to $38,619 a year. Minimum qualifications for GL-5 are either one year of field experience in a profession with related skill sets (not necessarily law enforcement), a four-year college degree or an equivalent combination. For instance, two years of undergraduate studies and six months of related field experience can suffice.

Higher pay scales of GL-7 at $43,964 are granted to applicants who can either demonstrate specific law enforcement skills, have a one-year post-graduate education in law-enforcement-related degrees like Criminal Justice or who displayed exemplary academic performance during four-year undergraduate studies.

The highest starting pay scale, GL-9 at $49,029, is only granted to applicants who have one year or more of law enforcement experience while practicing the needed skills in investigation, detainment, interviewing and other areas.

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