Border Patrol Agent

Become a Border Patrol Agent

Conditions of Employment

You must be willing to:

  • Meet with a Border Patrol oral interview panel and successfully pass the oral examination; and,
  • Undergo an extensive background investigation.
  • Accept appointments at any location the border in which you are in process.
  • Work rotating shifts, many at night.
  • Work long and irregular hours, including weekends and holidays.
  • Work alone.
  • Learn the Spanish language.
  • Adhere to grooming and dress standards.
  • Carry, maintain, and use a firearm.
  • Work under hazardous conditions such as inclement weather, rough terrain, heights, moving trains, high-speed chases, and armed encounters.
  • Operate a variety of motor vehicles.
  • Submit to a physical examination.
  • Fly as a passenger/observer in various types of aircraft.
  • Maintain composure and self-control under extremely stressful conditions.
  • Bear initial travel and uniform costs (a $500 uniform allowance is provided after entrance on duty).
  • Undergo intensive physical and academic training, which includes a 15-week study of study at the CBP Border Patrol Academy, and subsequent training throughout the year.
  • Work on operational details away from home for extended periods of 35 days or more.
  • Reasonable Accommodation: Reasonable accommodations will be made for applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodations will be made for any part of the hiring process, please notify the servicing personnel office. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be rendered on a case-by-case basis.
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Medical Qualification Requirements

The duties of the position involve physical exertion under adverse environmental conditions such as extremes of weather and terrain. Hours of work are often irregular and protracted. The ability to safely and efficiently perform a variety of duties, e.g., while on foot or while using motor vehicles (car, air, marine, etc.) is required.

Physical training and duties employ firearms, weapons and arrest techniques, as well as defensive tactics. Physical conditioning is essential and includes the ability to: run long distances, weight train, swim, sprint, and climb walls, ropes and ladders. The ability to crawl through a simulated culvert, jump ditches, and stand/stoop for prolonged periods, etc. is also required. Trainees are expected to successfully complete a confidence course practice session(s) and a final timed proficiency course. Operating motor vehicles including doing so under simulated emergency responses is also required.

Prior to an offer of employment, tentative selectees must undergo a pre-employment medical examination and be found to be medically qualified to perform the full range of duties of the position safely and efficiently. Any disease or condition that may potentially interfere with the safe and efficient performance of the job’s duties or training may constitute grounds for medical disqualification. Individualized assessments of each person’s medical history, current condition and medical qualifications will be made on a case-by-case basis. Final consideration and medical determination may require additional information and/or testing. If medical information is required beyond that provided by the pre-placement examination, it is provided at the expense of the tentative selectee.


  • Uncorrected distance vision must be equal to or better than 20/100 in each eye.
  • Binocular distance vision must be correctable to 20/20.
  • Depth perception must be equal to or better than 70 seconds of arc.
  • Peripheral vision must be normal.
  • Color vision must be normal. X-Chrome lenses or other artificial devices are not acceptable as a means for correcting color deficiencies.
  • Monocular vision is generally disqualifying.
  • Candidates must be able to safely tolerate rigorous / hazardous law enforcement activities such as physical altercations and exposures to toxins such as pepper sprays, etc.
  • Any disease or condition that interferes with a person’s vision may be considered disqualifying; this will be determined on a case by case basis.
  • Refractive Eye Surgery: Individuals who have undergone refractive surgical procedures (such as LASIK surgery) are considered acceptable provided the individual’s vision meets the above standards post-operatively, and an acceptable recovery time period has occurred. The individual must be free of post-operative complications. For refractive surgery, the results of an additional evaluation by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist will be required to ensure that vision is not impeded due to post-operative complications such as glare and contrast-sensitivity, and the individual must be cleared for rigorous law enforcement training including exposure to pepper spray.


  • Unaided testing in each ear cannot exceed 30dB at the 500, 1000 and 2000Hz frequencies. At 3000 Hz, the deficit should not exceed 40 decibels in either ear.
  • The use of any hearing aid to meet the medical standards is unacceptable.

All medication requirements, including psychotropic medication, will be evaluated to ensure that safe and efficient job performance will not be adversely affected. Each of the following considerations will enter the medical recommendations:

  • Medication(s) and type and dosage requirements
  • Potential drug side effects
  • Drug-drug interactions
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Drug toxicity and any medical complications associated with long-term drug use
  • Drug-environment interactions
  • Drug-food interactions
  • History of patient compliance
  • Medications such as narcotics, sedative hypnotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, or any drug with the potential for addiction, that is taken for extended periods of time (usually beyond 10 days) or is prescribed for a persistent or recurring underlying condition would generally be considered disqualifying.

Anabolic Steroids. Any person currently using anabolic steroids may be disqualified.

Note: Anabolic steroids were legislated as a controlled substance on February 27, 1991, and now require a physician’s prescription.

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Basic Qualifications

1. You must be a United States citizen.

2. You must possess a valid automobile driver’s license.

3. You must take and pass the CBP Border Patrol entrance examination. The CBP Border Patrol entrance examination is a three-part test, which covers logical reasoning skill, Spanish Language, or if you don’t speak Spanish, an Artificial Language test that predicts your ability to learn Spanish, and an assessment of job related experiences and achievements.

4. To qualify at the GL-5 level, you must have a substantial background of experience (paid, voluntary, full or part-time), of which at least one year must have been comparable in level of difficulty and responsibility to grade GS-4 in the federal service. The work experience does not have to be law enforcement related. (You must describe all work experience in your application for employment in order to gain proper consideration.)

This type of experience must demonstrate an ability to take charge, make decisions and maintain composure in stressful situations; it must demonstrate an ability to maintain interpersonal relationships with coworkers and the public and it must demonstrate a propensity to learn both on the job and through formal instruction.


If you do not have the work experience described above, a 4-year college degree can be substituted for and is fully qualifying for the GL-5 level. There is no requirement that the degree is in any particular field or that it is a recent degree;


You may qualify through a combination of education and work experience (assuming you have not completed your degree). Each year of full-time semester or quarter units equates to three months of general work experience. For example, if you had two (2) years of full-time college education, that would equate to six months of experience with an additional six (6) months of generalized work experience, you could qualify for the GL-5 position.

Qualifying at the GL-7: It is extremely important for you to provide the documentation described below if you want to be considered for a grade GL-7. Your grade level will be determined based on the information you provide with your application. If you are offered a position as a GL-5 Border Patrol Agent (Trainee), and you accept, you cannot change your grade level once you enter on duty. Your application (Resume, OF-612, or SF-171) must completely and specifically describe your job duties that you want considered in the determination. All transcripts, calculations, and other documentation must be submitted to the CBP Minneapolis Hiring Center within 10 days of notification of selection Failure to provide this documentation will result in you not being found eligible at the GL-7 grade level. If you have one (1) year of Law Enforcement Experience comparable in level of difficulty and responsibility to GL-5 you may qualify for GL-7. The CBP Minneapolis Hiring Center will determine what meets the specialized experience requirement. Experience must have demonstrated the ability to:

Make arrests and exercise sound judgment in the use of firearms:
Deal effectively with individuals or groups of persons in a courteous, tactful manner in connection with law enforcement matters:
Analyze information rapidly and make prompt decisions or take prompt and appropriate law enforcement action in light of applicable laws, court decisions, and sound law enforcement matters:
Develop and maintain contact with a network of informants.
All four items listed must be met in order to qualify at the GL-7 grade level based on experience. You must address all four of these items in your application


If you have one (1) full year of Graduate education in law or a field related to law enforcement (e.g. Criminal Justice, Police Science), you can qualify for the GL-7.


Superior Academic Achievement (SAA): to qualify for the GL-7 under the SAA provision, you must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4 year college/university. SAA is based on (1) grade point average (GPA of 3.0 or higher out of a possible 4.0 for all completed undergraduate courses, or courses completed in the last 2 years of undergraduate study, or a GPA of 3.5 or higher out of a possible 4.0 for all courses in the major field of study, or required courses in the major field completed in the last 2 years of undergraduate study; (2) class standing (applicants must be in the upper third of their graduating class in their college, university or major subdivision; or (3) honor society membership (applicants must have been a member of a national scholastic honor society other than freshman honor societies).

5. You must pass a urine drug test: tentative selectees for this position will be required to submit to a urine drug screen for illegal substances prior to appointment. This position is designated for testing for illegal drug use; after hiring, incumbents are subject to random testing. In addition to drug screening, candidates must meet specific medical and physical requirements.

6. You must be younger than 40 at the time of selection. The limitation may be waived for applicants who are presently in Federal civilian law enforcement positions covered under the special retirement provisions of P.L. 100-238, or who have been in such positions in the past.

7. You must appear before an oral interview panel and demonstrate that you possess the abilities and other characteristics important to Border Patrol Agent positions. Among these are interpersonal skills, judgment, and problem-solving abilities.

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The Border Patrol Agent Hiring Process

Step 1
Apply by Internet – You must register for the written test for the Border Patrol Agent position during the open period. You must register for the written test online. The website address is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week during the open period. Based on your responses to the questions, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will determine if you meet the basic qualifications for the BPA position. If you meet the minimum qualifications, you will be scheduled for the written test.

Step 2
Schedule the Written Test – Scheduling of the written test is done during the on-line registration process. As soon as you have registered and have been scheduled for the written test, you will be able to print your test admission notice which will contain the date, location, and time for the written test. You will be given a UserID and password after you have successfully registered for the written test. If you need to reprint your test admission notice, print a study guide, or reschedule yourself into another test session you will need to go to ( USA Test Manager ) , log in using your UserID and password, click on “Border Patrol Agent” (listed below “Application”) and select the appropriate choice (Contact Information or Study Guide or Reschedule My Exam), to obtain this information and print it. If you forget your UserID/password, you will need to go to ( USA Test Manager ) and click on “forgot UserID and password”.

We believe that proper test preparation is essential for the successful candidate and suggest that you take time to carefully read the study guide. If you want to get started, you may download the guide from our website.

Prepare for the Written Test
We suggest that you review the study guides before taking the test.

Preparation Manual for the U.S. Border Patrol Test – This manual will familiarize you with the U.S. Border Patrol Logical Reasoning Test, the Spanish Language Proficiency Test, and the Artificial Language Test (ALT), and will give you a chance to study sample questions and explanations for the correct answers to each question.

Sample Test for the Entry-Level U.S. Border Patrol Logical Reasoning Test – This diagnostic assessment will help you prepare for the Logical Reasoning Test (LRT) by identifying your strengths and weaknesses on several of the components of the LRT.

The test itself takes about 4 1/2 hours and contains 3 sections: Logical reasoning skills; Spanish language or, if you don’t speak Spanish, an Artificial Language Test that predicts your ability to learn Spanish; and an assessment of job-related experiences and achievements. After you have taken the Border Patrol Agent test, you should receive a Notice of Results (NOR) in the mail within 4-6 weeks following the test. These are your test score results.

Step 3
Selection Process – If you pass the written test, your name will be placed on an inventory. The inventory is maintained in score order including veteran’s preference points. Referral for a position is dependent on the scores of the applicants that are available in the inventory when a list is issued. If you are selected, you will be emailed a tentative selection package. That package will explain the further requirements for forms submission, the oral interview with a panel of Border Patrol Agents, medical examination, fitness test, drug test, background investigation, and the second physical fitness test, which all need to be satisfactorily completed before a firm offer of employment can be made.

Step 4
Structured Oral Interview – The Oral Board is a structured interview given by three Border Patrol Agents. The interview consists of situational questions that do not require technical knowledge. The structured interview assesses a candidate’s judgment/decision making, emotional maturity, interpersonal skills, and cooperativeness/sensitivity to the needs of others. These qualities are key to successful performance as a Border Patrol Agent. The oral board is a pass/fail interview. Candidates must receive a “pass” in all areas in order to continue in the hiring process.

Step 5
Pre-Employment Process – In addition to completing step 4, you must also undergo and successfully complete a drug test, medical examination, fitness test, background investigation, and a second physical fitness test. These will be scheduled as soon as possible.

Starting Work
If you successfully complete these steps your name will be placed on a list for a future position. As vacancies become available and your name is reachable (dependant on original selection date order and score order, including veterans’ preference) you will receive a firm offer of employment.

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What is the Veterans Education Benefits Program?

Veteran employees often take a cut in pay upon their transition from the military to a new-hire federal employee. The monthly education benefit payments they receive are intended to supplement the veteran’s income as they make the transition to a new career.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers an education benefits program to eligible veterans who are in trainee status in training that comprises a condition of employment. This program provides monthly benefit payments to qualified veterans during the period of time that the veteran is in basic training and while in on-the-job training status (OJT).


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Is my military service creditable for retirement?

If you were on active duty in the military and received an honorable discharge, your military service is potentially creditable under FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) or CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System).

For employees covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), which includes most new applicants for a BPA position, active-duty military service performed AFTER 1956, known as Post-56 military service, is creditable only if a deposit is made. The deposit required is three percent of your military earnings plus accrued interest. The amount of the buyback depends on how soon you begin repayment. Interest does not start to accrue until three years after your retirement coverage begins. Payment can be made in lump sum or over a period of time; minimum individual payment is $25. The full deposit must be made while you are an employee (before you retire). If you are retired military and you become an employee, you may wish to consult a retirement counselor to see if beneficial to combine your military retirement pay with your Federal Retirement pay rather than retaining the separate pensions. Those covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) PRIOR to October 1, 1982 may receive credit for military service WITHOUT making a deposit. However, if you will be eligible for Social Security at age 62, or retirement, whichever is later, your retirement annuity will be reduced by eliminating all credit for post-1956 active duty military service UNLESS you make a deposit. Those who became subject to Civil Service Retirement System deductions AFTER October 1, 1982 will ONLY receive credit for active-duty military service IF Post-56 deposit is made.

For additional information on whether your military service is creditable towards federal retirement, how much you will have to pay back and procedures to make a military deposit, please visit the following websites.

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I am the spouse of an applicant. What will my life be like at the new duty station?

What your lifestyle is like will largely depend on where you are stationed. If it is a rural area and you are used to city life, you may be surprised by the change. You may have to drive a long distance to get reasonable grocery prices and selection. You may live in an area where you and your children are a racial or ethnic minority. Exotic foods, different languages being spoken, signs on stores written in a language you don’t understand can all make culture shock a possibility. If you are able, you might consider taking a Spanish course while your spouse is at the Academy. Employment for you may or may not be available, depending on location. If you are stationed close to the border, you may want to consider federal employment for yourself (also as a Border Patrol Agent, a Customs Border Protection Officer, or other federal worker.) Though there can be significant challenges for the spouse of a Border Patrol Agent, it can also be an adventure. And we are working all the time to help you meet the challenges that do exist.

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Do trainees have to buy uniforms?

Yes. Upon arrival at the Academy, trainees will be measured for official Border Patrol uniforms and an initial uniform order will be placed. Trainees receive a $1,500 allowance to offset this cost; however, they are encouraged to have on hand an additional $100 for the purchase of temporary uniform items that are required when first arriving at the Academy. Thereafter, an annual uniform allowance of $500 is provided towards additional or replacement uniforms. A complete set of official and rough duty uniforms costs approximately $1,275.

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What about expenses and costs in the first year?

The initial expenses and costs of the first year are substantial. Many Agents claim that it is quite beneficial to have a sound financial status before entering the Service.

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Should family members accompany the trainees to the duty station?

We recommend that trainees should not consider movement of their household goods and family to their permanent post of duty until completion of training at the Academy. Trainees are required to live on campus at the Academy. There are no facilities for family members at the Academy.

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