Border Patrol Agent Career, Job, Degrees and Training Information

The U.S. Border Patrol, a part of the federal government, often collaborates with the Department of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Border Patrol is also a department under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security. The Border Patrol is responsible to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the borders. When they locate an illegal immigrant, it is also their responsibility to detain illegal immigrants. Since many drugs are smuggled across the border, the Border Patrol also participates in anti-drug smuggling operations. Because of concerns regarding terrorism, border patrol agents sometimes participate in counter terrorism operations. The federal government is in need of more Border Patrol agents, so demand for these jobs will continue to increase.

Border Patrol Mission

Today the U.S. Border Patrol is the mobile, uniformed law enforcement arm of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The U.S. Border Patrol was first established in 1924 by Congress in response to the growing threat of illegal immigration into the United States. Prior to 1924 the Bureau of Immigration fulfilled the role of border patrol and immigration monitoring. It was reorganized into the Border Patrol. They were mandated with the responsibility of fighting the war against illegal entry into the United States and the growing business of alien smuggling.

Since September 11, 2001, when the United State came under terrorist attack, the core focus of the Border Patrol has become the detection, apprehension and/or deterrence of terrorists and weapons used to support domestic terrorist attacks. Although the Border Patrol has evolved since its birth nearly 80 years ago, its mission remains unchanged: to detect and prevent the entry of illegal aliens into the United States. In a combined effort with other law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Border Patrol helps to facilitate the flow of legal immigration and goods and prevent the illegal trafficking of people and contraband.

Specifically, the Border Patrol is tasked with the responsibility of monitoring and patrolling the 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders and nearly 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula and the island of Puerto Rico. Border Patrol agents work night and day on assignments, in all types of weather conditions and diverse terrains. In addition to being posted along the border, agents also work in many local communities throughout the United States.

Working as a Border Patrol agent can be dangerous. Numerous Border Patrol agents have been severely injured or killed while on duty. Border Patrol agents must be disciplined and have a passion to ensure their fellow citizens are protected.

Border Patrol Duties

Arguably, one of the most important activities, if not the most important activity, of a Border Patrol Agent is line watch. This entails the detection, prevention and apprehension of undocumented aliens, terrorists, smugglers of aliens, and human traffickers at or near U.S. land borders by maintaining constant surveillance from a covert position, responding to electronic sensor television systems, following up leads, responding to aircraft sightings, and interpreting and following tracks, marks and other physical evidence of related illegal activity. Other duties of a Border Patrol agent include traffic check, farm and ranch check, traffic observation, transportation check, city patrol, administrative, intelligence gathering, and anti-smuggling activities.

How to Apply to Border Patrol

Applying to become a U.S. Border Patrol agent is actually quite straight forward and easy. When the CBP Border Patrol is actively recruiting for agents, information will be posted on the website or on the website. If you are ready to get started simply complete the Border Patrol Agent Online Application form at

Border Patrol Foreign Language Requirements

You don't have to speak spanish to join the U.S. Border Patrol but you must learn Spanish once you've been accepted to the Border Patrol Academy. After entering on duty you must past a series of Spanish tests in order to continue working in the Border Patrol.

The CBP Border Patrol Entrance Examination

The U.S. Border Patrol entrance examination is a three part test covering logical reasoning, Spanish language (or, if you can't already speak Spanish, an Artificial Language that will predict your ability to learn Spanish), and an assessment of your past career experience. For more information on the entrance exam and to view study guides for the test you can visit

Border Patrol Education and Training Requirements

The U.S. Border Patrol has rigorous education requirements, and if applicants do not have a relevant work background, they can earn a bachelor's or graduate degree to begin their careers at a GS-5 pay grade. Ideal candidates have completed a bachelor's program and have some related work experience. Good degrees to earn to prepare to become a Border Patrol agent would focus on criminal justice or homeland security. Applicants must also be younger than 40, possess a valid driver's license, be an American citizen, and have no felonies or Class A misdemeanors on their record. Moreover, they must not have committed a Class b misdemeanor within the previous 10 year period when they apply, be in good shape, and pass a background check.

Border Patrol Agent Salary, Earnings and Wage Information

After beginning their careers, Border Patrol Agents can expect to earn an annual salary between $34,966-55,797. Agents will also be eligible for accelerated promotion.

Source: US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics,,

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