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Other FAQ's 
(Stuff that really didn't fit anywhere else)

Q.  You say that Border Patrol Agent is the Best Job on Earth. Why?

A.  The position of Border Patrol Agent is exactly what YOU make of it.

     There is outdoors work, office work, digging in the dirt work, riding horses work, riding four wheeler work, you name it, we have it. They give you a four wheel drive vehicle and all the gas you can burn, then they actually encourage you to go out in the desert and go four wheeling. Then of course, we have the dreaded "X's", (a necessary but not well-loved part of our border control strategy) but we'll let the naysayers tell you about those.

     They give you this great gun and lots of bullets to practice with. You get some nice uniforms for free and a real shiny gold badge (real shiny, NOT real gold). You have the respect of sister agencies who know what kind of academy you've just gone through. You get to learn a new language if you don't already speak Spanish, all for free. Did I say free? You get PAID to do this!! You get to travel, you get to meet strange and exotic people from all over the globe and arrest many of them. I did this great job for over 22 years years, and while I can't deny I'm kind of enjoying retirement, I think you can sense that the excitement of the job has not burned out in all these years. If and when the fun and excitement are gone, Folks, it's time to seek employment elsewhere.

Q.  What can you tell me about retirement benefits?

A.  Click HERE to see the official Thrift Savings Plan web site.

Q. Is this job very dangerous?

A. Border Patrol is police work and police work can be dangerous. Most of the people we arrest are fairly docile, simply looking for work in a land of opportunity. However, you should be aware that we arrest drug smugglers, criminals and other people who are not fond of the idea of being incarcerated. The job also has inherent dangers. Usually, common sense and good judgment will keep you out of danger, but every now and then, things happen. The Border Patrol offers some of the best training available at the academy and on the job to keep make sure you go home when your shift is over. Click to see the San Diego Union Tribune articles.

Q. I have experience working with canines (or I just want to work with canines). What are my chances of getting a dog handler position?

A. Pretty good, actually. You must attain journeyman status before you even think about it, though. Not every station has dogs. The dogs are trained for detection of humans and narcotics, not for attack. They can be a heavy responsibility since you will assume all kenneling chores.

Q. I am a licensed pilot. Can I fly for the Border Patrol?

A. You can fly for CBP.  Sadly, our pilots are no longer Border Patrol Agents.

Q. What about chances for advancement in the Patrol?

A. You will be promoted non-competitively to GS-12, assuming all duties are performed in a satisfactory manner. You will be awarded step increases at periodic intervals up to step ten. If you make it to GS-12, step 10 and continue to not seek advancement, that's the end of the trail, Cowboy. 

If you are interested in supervision or management, you can apply for those positions. Supervisory Border Patrol Agents (that's what I was until I took an investigative position) are normally hired at the GS-13 level. Patrol Agents in Charge can be 13's, 14's or higher, depending on station needs. The Field Operations Supervisor or Watch Commander is also generally a GS-14. And so it goes. Opportunities abound for those willing to accept responsibility.

You may also be interested in going into the criminal investigations field. INS Criminal Investigators are hired in a couple of different ways. Sometimes, they hire at the journeyman level, GS-12 or 13. Sometimes, they hire off the street at the GS-5 level. I personally do not like this, since there are always highly trained and motivated BPA's looking for advancement. As far as I know, the INS is the only agency in the US that hires street hire investigators when they have a uniformed branch to draw from. There is probably a really good reason for that, that I am not aware of.

Q. What gun does the Border Patrol use? Can I use my own gun?

A. The Border Patrol uses the H&K P2000. It is a .40 caliber semi auto pistol.  Personally owned guns must be approved by your Chief Patrol Agent in charge of your sector.

Q. What are the chances that I will ever have to use my gun?

A. That's a "loaded" question. I did this stuff for over 22 years and I've never had to shoot anyone. Then again, I knew a trainee who shot a guy not too long after reporting to his station. Violence is becoming more of a problem along the border with the success of Operation Hold the Line and Operation Gatekeeper. You just have to adopt an attitude that you will not allow the bad guys to hurt you and be ready by virtue of the training you get from the BP and training that you do by yourself. I used to personally try to outdraw that ugly guy in the mirror before I went to work. He was almost as fast as I was.

Q. Do you have a list of Border Patrol Commonly Used Terms:

What other kinds of weapons and neat stuff do you use or have available?