Customs Officials


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you're interested in working for CBP, pursue a well-rounded education in high school. Courses in government, geography and social studies, English, and history will contribute to your understanding of international and domestic legal issues as well as give you a good general background. If you wish to become a specialist in scientific or investigative aspects of CBP, courses in the sciences, particularly chemistry, will be necessary and courses in computer science will be helpful. Taking a foreign language, especially Spanish, will also help prepare you for this career.

Postsecondary Training

Applicants must have earned at least a high school diploma, but those with college degrees are preferred.

New CBP officers participate in a rigorous 89-day training program at CBP Field Operations Academy in Glynco, Georgia, within the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The program includes the following components: 

  • Classroom Training
  • Driving Training
  • Firearms Training
  • Tactical Training
  • Tactical Medical
  • Physical Training
  • Practical Exercises

Visit for detailed information about the program. 

CBP agricultural specialists receive specialized training from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for customs officials.

Other Requirements

Applicants to CBP must be U.S. citizens and at least 21 years old, and be under age 37 (unless they are an eligible military veteran or have served in a federal civilian law enforcement position). They are required to have three years of general work experience involving contact with the public or four years of college. Applicants must also have a valid state driver's license at the time of their appointment.

Applicants to CBP must undergo and pass a medical examination, two pre-employment physical examinations, a drug test, a thorough background check (including a polygraph exam), a structured interview, and pass a written test. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Entry-level customs officers must have at least three years of general work experience interacting with the public or four years of college. Physically fit individuals who are mentally stable and can exercise sound judgement, particularly in highly stressful and dangerous situations, are preferred for this type of work. The job requires the ability to pay close attention to details, interview potential violators and witnesses, analyze and disseminate intelligence information, and develop cases and prepare reports. Clear communication skills, diplomacy, and tact in dealing with a wide range of people are essential. An intrinsic part of the customs officer's job is developing and maintaining relationships with networks of informants, political and social groups, state and local enforcement agencies, and private citizens. Fluency in English and Spanish is also an advantage in this field.