January 31, 2009 in City

Customs bureau looking to fill 11,000 positions

Blaine, Wash., branch hosting job fair today
Dave Kolpack Associated Press

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is preparing to fill 11,000 positions nationally this year and Blaine, Wash., is one of 15 locations across the country hosting a “National Career Day” for the agency today.

The agency’s top national recruiter, Joe Arata, says about 8,000 of the jobs are front-line law-enforcement positions, while the other 3,000 are support positions.

While some of the jobs are based at the Blaine border crossing, in the Seattle area or other locations in Washington state, Arata says job seekers boost their chances if they can relocate.

Applicants for Border Patrol agent jobs must be younger than 40 while candidates for Customs field-operations officer positions must be younger than 37. The age restriction does not apply to support positions.

No prior law enforcement experience is necessary.

“At our academy, we will teach you what you need to know,” said Tara Dunlop, a Customs and Border Patrol spokeswoman. “There are so many different career tracks in this agency. You don’t necessarily have to carry a gun.”

Dunlop said the agency has continued to grow since the 2001 terrorist attacks. There are openings for 3,000 customs and border patrol officers, 4,600 border patrol agents, 3,000 mission and operations support staff, 350 agriculture specialists, and 300 air and marine officers.

“We have gone through unprecedented expansion in the last several years,” Dunlop said. “We need additional folks.”

Several positions will become part of the Inland Northwest sector of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, but the exact figure is not being released, said James Frackelton, Spokane’s recruitment coordinator.

“What’s unprecedented is the opportunity to come to the northern border,” Frackelton said.

In addition to the one in Blaine, Wash., job fairs are scheduled today in Grand Forks, N.D., Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, New York, Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Buffalo, N.Y., Laredo, Texas, El Paso, Texas, Tucson, Ariz., and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

The job has a starting salary range of about $35,000 to $45,000, depending on qualifications. Workers who meet performance standards are bumped up to around $55,000 after two years. Border Patrol agents can earn an additional 25 percent of their base salaries each year in overtime pay.

Dunlop said expectations vary by job, but applicants must be U.S. citizens, have lived in the country for the past three years, and be younger than 40 at the time of appointment. All trainees are required to learn Spanish.

Spokesman-Review reporter Jody Lawrence-Turner contributed to this report.

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