How to become a CBP Agent

Selection Process

A recent increase in the budget for U.S. Customs and Border Protection has led to a hiring surge. In 2014, it was announced that this agency would hire an additional 2,000 customs and border agents for locations around the country. Although there are considerably more openings, the selection process for hiring Border Patrol Agents has not changed.

The initial step in applying for a Border Patrol Agent job is to visit If there is a job opening for Border Patrol Agent, applicants should fully read the job details and then follow the link to the Office of Personnel Management. Once on the OPM site, you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire which will determine if you meet all of the minimum requirements for this job.

You must then submit a completed application along with any supporting documents to the OPM. These documents may include school transcripts, copies of citizenship documents, employment records, and military service records. It is extremely important to accurately fill out the application or it may lead to delays in processing or possibly disqualification.

If your application package is approved, you will be scheduled to take the Border Patrol Entrance Examination. This written test includes a Logical Reasoning portion which will evaluate a candidate’s ability to read, comprehend and problem solve. This is followed by either a Spanish Language Test or an Artificial Language Test. If you are not conversant in Spanish, you will be required to complete the Artificial Language Test which will assess your ability to learn a new language. Those with the highest scores will be contacted first to continue through the selection process.

Candidates who are approved for the next stage must meet with a 2 field agents and a supervisory agent in an Oral Interview. This interview typically will present situations and ask the candidate for their responses. Interviewers may also ask additional questions regarding your personal or employment history.

If you successfully complete the Oral Interview, you will be presented with a Conditional Offer of Employment. This offer is dependent upon successfully passing the final components of the selection process. A medical and psychological evaluation must be passed. You must also provide urine for a drug test. A pre-employment fitness test must also be successfully completed.

Border Patrol Agents must work in a law enforcement or national security environment, which requires management of sensitive information. In order to obtain clearance, candidates must successfully pass an intensive background investigation which will determine if all provided information is complete and accurate. This may include examination of academic history, employment records, financial history and social contacts. Candidates must also pass a polygraph examination.

Physical Requirements

In order to serve as a Border Patrol Agent, candidates must demonstrate that they can perform the physical duties expected of these challenging careers. All candidates must complete a two part Pre-employment Fitness Test (PFT) prior to active service. The first part includes three components:

  • Push-up test—candidates must complete as many push-ups as possible within 60 seconds. At the peak, the arms of the candidate must be at full extension. At the lowest point, the chest must rest on a foam block placed beneath the candidate. At least 20 repetitions is necessary for hiring.
  • Sit-up test—recruits must complete as many sit-ups as possible within a 60 second period. Each sit-up must conform with proper form. At least 25 repetitions is necessary for hiring.
  • Step test--The final part of the test consists of stepping up and down upon a 12 inch high step. The recruit must complete 120 steps per minute for 5 minutes.

The second part of the PFT includes the same Sit-up Test and Push-up Test from phase one but also includes to new tests:

  • 220 Yard Run—candidates must run this distance in 46 seconds or less
  • 1.5 Mile Run—candidates must run without stopping this distance within 15 minutes

Upon completion of the Basic Training Program, new recruits must again complete the 220 Yard Run and the 1.5 Mile Run with identical finish times, as well as a Confidence Course which should be completed within 2.5 minutes.


Upon admission to U.S. Customs and Border Protection as a Border Patrol Agent, you must complete 19 week Basic Training Program at the CBP Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico. There are four courses in the training program:

  • Nationality Law—this course helps agents determine if an individual is a U.S. citizen, national or alien
  • Immigration Law—this introduces agents to the immigration laws that authorize them to take action against potential offenders
  • Criminal Law—this course provides recruits with a basic understanding of criminal statutes and legal responses
  • Statutory Authority—agents will learn the scope of their authority and possible actions in a variety of situations

If a trainee is not proficient in Spanish, they must complete an 8 week Spanish language course prior to entering the 55 day basic academy training. This course will equip students with basic Spanish language necessary to perform their professional duties.

Trainees will also learn modern law enforcement techniques like use of firearms, physical training and driver training. Firearm proficiency must be demonstrated following the 8 hour training course through

  • Quick point
  • Judgment pistol shooting
  • Survival shooting
  • Instinctive reaction shooting
  • Range safety

Driver training includes use of vans and transport vehicles, pursuit driving, vehicle stops, night driving and four wheel driving.


CBP Experience & Education Requirements CBP Field Offices