Customs Patrol Officer

Inspect people and packages entering the U.S. for illegal substances.
picture of Customs Patrol Officer

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$32,000 – $84,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Customs Patrol Officers do?

When items enter or leave the country, their owners must pay a fee, even if they don’t want to. However, there are some items that simply aren’t allowed into or out of the country because they’re deemed illegal. A Customs Patrol Officer makes sure these two rules are followed.

A Customs Patrol Officer usually has one area to monitor and patrol. If you’re a Customs Patrol Officer, you stop and search cars that enter or leave the area, and may also ask the Drivers to provide you with proof that they’ve paid customs on the items they’re carrying. If they haven’t paid, or are trying to bring something illegal into or out of the country, you detain them and notify law enforcement agencies that you have people who must be arrested.

You also perform these same tasks on ships and trains that enter your area. You open many, many boxes and suitcases during the course of your workday. You’ll be amazed at the cleverness of smugglers, but you won’t admire their work.

People who are trying to break the law are often well connected, and they rely on a network of helpers to do their jobs. You may try to infiltrate this network with your skill, your winning personality, and your influence. You don’t bribe people, but you remind them why following the law is important.

You may turn over your leads to the U.S. Customs Service so a larger investigation can be conducted to bust the offenders. If they’re caught, you may testify in court about what you found.

Should I be a Customs Patrol Officer?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Patrol Officer

    How to become a Customs Patrol Officer

    We recommend at least a Certificate. Check out these schools offering Customs Patrol Officer-related education!
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