Customs Agent

According to O*NET Online, the main role of a Customs Agent (aka Customs Inspector) is to investigate and inspect persons,  goods, common carriers, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the United States or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations.

Customs Agents work for the United States Department of Customs and Border Patrol, which is a branch of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security).

A customs agent who works for the CBP is responsible for helping keep weapons and terrorists out of the United States.

They are also responsible for preventing smuggling and illegal immigration.

There are some customs agents who have an extensive knowledge of immigration laws and specialize in working with immigrants.

Other agents are trained in how to handle guns and narcotics and work exclusively in that department.

Customs agents work all over the country at land border crossings and in airports.

These individuals are the first line of defense against a number of risks to national security.

Education Requirements

U.S. Customs Careers

U.S. Customs Careers

In order to pursue a customs agent career a person will need to have at least an associate’s degree and preferably a bachelor’s degree.

Most customs agents choose to get their degrees in areas such as security management, criminal justice, or psychology.

Liberal arts and humanities degrees are also ideal for working with the United States Customs and Border Patrol.

While it is not required, it is ideal for a person to study a foreign language, particularly Spanish, during their years as a student.

This can create a great advantage when applying for a job as a customs agent.

Law enforcement or similar official training of another variety can also increase a person’s chances of becoming a customs agent.

However, this experience does not replace the education requirements.

Customs Agent Career

After graduating from college, a person interested in the customs agent field will need to apply for an open position.

There are a number of oral tests and written tests that a person must pass in order to be considered for a position with the United States Border Patrol.

These tests include language, aptitude, and general reasoning.

Additionally, a person who is interested in working as a customs agent will have to go through a fairly extensive background check.

This background check will be conducted before a final interview will take place.

A medical examination will be required as well as a physical fitness examination before a person is approved for a position as a customs agent.

After a person goes through the initial interview, takes all of the required tests, passes the medical examination and physical examination, and goes through a final interview, they will then start a one or two-year training program.

The training program that a person goes through will be specialized to match the job that they have applied for.

The training will include classroom hours as well as physical activities.

For those specializing in immigration, courses about immigration laws will be completed.

Individuals who are trained to deal with guns and narcotics will take courses on how to appropriately handle these situations.

Individuals who complete the training program successfully will then be placed in a position as a customs agent in an airport, at a border crossing, or at a dock or seaport.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
District of Columbia5,280$81,160$39.02$102,500$62,440
New Hampshire2,900$62,480$30.04$80,120$47,480
New Jersey20,510$90,520$43.52$128,360$51,110
New Mexico4,610$56,690$27.26$71,910$40,550
New York50,600$81,750$39.30$127,020$49,210
North Carolina20,480$51,310$24.67$70,240$37,230
North Dakota1,710$65,730$31.60$79,960$48,550
Rhode Island1,760$68,290$32.83$83,200$49,080
South Carolina11,640$49,490$23.79$65,250$36,250
South Dakota1,830$54,130$26.02$76,390$39,270
West Virginia3,190$48,310$23.23$59,520$37,070
Puerto Rico12,930$40,230$19.34$49,570$23,430

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $104,010.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • California - $104,010
  • Washington - $92,250
  • New Jersey - $90,520
  • Hawaii - $89,640
  • Alaska - $85,710
  • Illinois - $82,470
  • New York - $81,750
  • District of Columbia - $81,160
  • Colorado - $80,990
  • Oregon - $78,150
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers, OCC Code 33-3051, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Michael Morales

About Michael Morales

Michael Morales is the Webmaster and Editor in Chief for With a strong background in Web Publishing and Internet Marketing, he currently works as an independent consultant. A former paramedic and ems educator, he enjoys punishing himself doing triathlons and endurance sports. Michael currently lives in sunny Northern California, home of the highest tax rates in the world.

2 Responses to Customs Agent

  1. Avatar
    Liz Hernandez #

    It’s worth noting that the role of a Customs Agent can be challenging, as it requires excellent attention to detail, adaptability, and the ability to work under pressure.

  2. Avatar
    Martin Conroy #

    They are responsible for inspecting goods, verifying compliance with import/export laws, and ensuring national security by detecting illegal activities like smuggling.

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