CBP Experience & Education Requirements

Education & Experience

In light of the many rewards associated with serving in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, it should come as no surprise that there is considerable competition for CBP Officer and Border Agent positions. U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses a number of screening methods to identify the most qualified candidates. One of the most important is evaluating the academic and professional qualifications of applicants. Officers may enter the agency at GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9 pay levels.

To become an officer at the GL-5 pay level, applicants should possess at least one of the following:

  • A degree from a four year college; or
  • Substantial experience in a leadership or management position with strong decision making and communication responsibilities; or
  • A combination of post-secondary education and management experience

To serve at the GL-7 level, candidates should have one or more of the following

  • One year of law enforcement experience that includes use of firearms, informant management and other police actions; or
  • One year of post-graduate study in a law enforcement related field; or
  • Superior Academic Achievement which is defined as
    • Bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 or higher; or
    • GPA of 3.5 or higher in the last two years of undergraduate study; or
    • Membership in an Honors Society; or
    • Ranking in the upper third of the graduating class

Applicants who wish to join the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the GL-9 level should have the following:

  • At least one year of law enforcement experience with responsibilities involving:
    • Conducting interviews and interrogations
    • Making arrests
    • Preparing cases and appearances in court
    • Use of firearms
    • Conducting community outreach
    • Analysis and dissemination of intelligence
    • Developing and maintaining informant networks
    • Use of law enforcement databases
    • Report writing

Regardless of the entering level, candidates are strongly encouraged to obtain the highest possible levels of academic achievement and law enforcement experience to aid in selection and career advancement.


Because U.S. Customs and Border Protection is so selective, they will immediately disqualify candidates who possess any of the following features in their personal history:

  • Is not a U.S. Citizen
  • Does not possess a valid Driver’s license
  • Failure to pass the CBP Border Patrol Entrance Exam
  • Past arrests
  • Severe financial problems
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Domestic violence convictions
  • Dismissals from employment
  • Failure to pass a urinalysis drug test
  • Is older 37 years of age (veterans may be exempt in some cases)
  • Failure to pass a medical and psychological evaluation
  • Does not possess 20/20 vision with or without correction
  • Does not possess color vision
  • Does not possess near normal hearing
  • Failure to pass a background investigation
  • Unwillingness to relocate or work long, irregular hours
  • Inability to learn the Spanish language
  • Failure to pass the physical fitness test
  • Failure to complete the 12 week training program

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reserves the right to disqualify any candidates who possess medical or psychological issues which would make them unfit for duty.


CBP Criminal Investigator Description CBP Selection & Training