Customs Officials


Employment Prospects


The U.S. Customs Service is the sole employer of customs officials. In the fiscal year of 2018, CBP employed 23,477 officers, 19,555 border patrol agents, 935 air and marine agents, 937 trade personnel, and 2,430 agriculture specialists.

Starting Out

Applicants may enter the various occupations of the CBP by applying to take the appropriate civil service examinations. Interested applicants should note the age, citizenship, and experience requirements previously described and realize that they will undergo an intensive background check and a drug test. If hired, applicants will receive exacting, on-the-job training. Entrance-level appointments are at grades GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9, depending on the level of education or work experience.

Advancement Prospects

All customs agents have the opportunity to advance through a special system of promotion from within. Although they enter at the GS-5 or GS-7 level, after one year they may compete for promotion to supervisory positions or simply to positions at a higher grade level in the agency. The journeyman level is grade GS-9. Supervisory positions at GS-11 and above are available on a competitive basis. After attaining permanent status (i.e., serving for one year on probation), customs patrol officers may compete to become special agents. Entry-level appointments for customs chemists are made at GS-5. However, applicants with advanced degrees or professional experience in the sciences, or both, should qualify for higher graded positions. Advancement potential exists for the journeyman level at GS-11 and to specialist, supervisory, and management positions at grades GS-12 and above.

Tips for Entry

Visit the careers section of the CBP's Web site to learn more about working as a customs official (

If you're 14 to 20 years old, participate in the CBP Explorer Program ( for practical training and firsthand experience in federal law enforcement-related activities.

Visit the government employment Web site ( to search for customs jobs. Read the job descriptions to learn more about what's required to be a customs official.