Customs Brokers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Take classes in math, science, history, government, and English. Knowledge of computers is helpful. Foreign language classes are also useful for potential international travel for the job.

Postsecondary Education

A high school diploma coupled with licensing may be adequate for some customs broker positions. Employers may prefer to hire customs brokers with an associate's or bachelor's degree in the specialty area of the company. For example, a company that specializes in supply chain management will prefer customs brokers with a degree in this area. College course work that is helpful includes business, accounting, math, law, government, communications, English, and computers.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Customs brokers must be licensed to conduct customs business. If they work for a customs brokerage business, there must be at least one licensed customs officer, partner, or associate to qualify the customs business. The failure to have a licensing customs officer or partner in excess of 120 days results in revocation of the broker license. To qualify for the customs broker license, applicants must first have their application approved by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Applicants submit the CBP-approved license application with the correct application fees. The final step is to pass the four-and-a-half hour customs broker license examination.

Other Requirements

Applicants must be at least 21 years old, not be current employees of the federal government, and be of good moral character. They undergo a background investigation that reviews character references, credit reports, arrest records, and fingerprint analysis.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

All customs broker jobs require a customs broker license and either coursework or a bachelor's degree in the specialized area of the company. Customs brokers are knowledgeable about federal regulations, customs directives, and tariffs. They are critical thinkers who are able to quickly and efficiently solve problems so that their clients comply with customs laws. Strong communication skills are required for sharing information with customs officials and explaining customs services and procedures to clients in ways they can understand. Customs brokers must also be detail oriented and have solid organizational and writing skills in order to read and write reports and other information. They must also be well versed in word processing and file management. They use various software programs in their work, such as automated commercial environment software; electronic data interchange software; enterprise resource planning software; spreadsheet software (such as Microsoft Excel); among other programs. Import and export laws and customs regulations and procedures are constantly changing, so customs brokers must continue their education throughout their careers to keep up with the latest developments.