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Border and Transportation Security

Border and Transportation Security
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U.S. Border and Transportation Security employees facilitate legitimate travel and trade while working to prevent terrorism and other illegal activities.

Border patrol agents are stationed along the physical borders of the United States. Most jobs are in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas - the four states that border Mexico. The remaining border agents work across the northern boundary with Canada.

Career opportunities for new border patrol agents are projected to remain good in the years ahead. To become a border patrol agent, individuals must:

  • be a U.S. citizen,
  • possess a valid driver's license,
  • be under 37 years of age,
  • have a bachelor's degree and 1-year of qualifying experience, and
  • be able to pass a medical and fitness exam, a drug test, and a background investigation.

Border patrol agents are federal employees under the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In addition to border patrol responsibilities, CBP also provides customs and immigration inspection, import and export control, and animal and plant health inspection services. These services are provided at 317 official ports-of-entry in the United States plus 14 pre-clearance offices in Canada and the Caribbean as well as on the northern and southern U.S. borders.

Altogether, the CBP has more than 41,000 employees in occupations that include customs and border protection officers; security clerks, assistants, and administrators; and inspection, investigation and compliance officers as well as automotive and heavy mobile equipment mechanics; biologists and chemists; and attorneys and paralegal specialists.

Border Agents Inspecting Train - copyright © 2006 Gerald L. Nino via - used with permission

Transportation security officers are on-site at all of the nation's major airports to screen airline passengers and luggage prior to boarding for dangerous objects and other terrorism threats. They may also help inspect air, rail, and other forms of transportation cargo for dangerous or illegal substances.

With over 400 major U.S. airports requiring transportation security officer screening services, job and career opportunities for such new officers are expected to remain very good during the years ahead.

Transportation security officers are federal employees under the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In addition to Transportation security screening responsibilities, TSA also administers the Federal Air Marshal Service.

TSA has over 10,000 employees. Most are directly engaged in providing transportation security screening and air marshal protective services. However, TSA also employs other managerial, financial, information technology, and administrative professionals.

Finally, the efforts of the CBP and TSA are supported by numerous state, regional and local authorities - such as the presence of state police at airports - that help provide additional security and resources to counter terrorist and illegal activities.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Key Links

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has information on career and current employment opportunities, which is available at the following pages:

  • Careers Spotlight - highlights selected occupational specialties.
  • About Careers - contains links to more occupational specialties.
  • Explorer Program - for young men and women between the ages of 14 and 21. Explorers engage in activities that build character, good citizenship, and fitness plus opportunities to participate in law enforcement and criminal justice related activities.

More information on the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including career and current employment opportunities, is available at the following pages:

Additional information on careers and employment with the various agencies under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is available on the DHS Web site, specifically, the DHS - Homeland Security Careers.

Careers in Homeland Security Report

Career in Homeland Security Screen Capture This report, published in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly (BLS, Summer 2006), describes various Homeland Security career options, including highlight profiles for border patrol agents, emergency management directors, and analytic chemists.

Education and Training in Homeland Security

Apprenticeship Certifications Community Colleges 4-year Colleges Other Options
Industry Overview In-Demand Occupations

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