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Customs Inspector

Individuals who have good judgment, are confident in their decision-making, and are accurate with great attention to detail can make good customs inspectors. A customs inspector has the role of preventing weapons, drugs, and illegal goods from being smuggled into the United States. They are also responsible for stopping the entry of harmful pests that might come into the country on imported fruits, vegetables, and other plants.

What Does a Customs Inspector Do?

Customs inspectors uphold the laws governing imported and exported goods and evaluate and examine individuals passing through U.S. borders. They also study shipping manifests to make sure imported goods do not violate U.S. regulations regarding their source or the country of origin’s child labor stipulations. In addition, customs inspectors examine declaration forms to ensure that all passengers are claiming the correct amount of currency and goods obtained abroad, so that appropriate taxes can be collected.

Customs inspectors’ day-to-day duties are carried out at ports of entry to the United States — seaports, international airports, train stations, and vehicle border crossings. Whether they work indoors or outdoors is dependent upon their station. For example, at seaports, inspectors will spend a lot of time outdoors inspecting cargo ships and aircraft entering and departing the country. On the other hand, inspectors who work for airports will work mainly indoors, alongside the airport’s baggage claim and passenger registration departments.

It’s pretty common for an inspector to be on his or her feet for long periods throughout the day, and they do not typically have offices. It’s the nature of the position for inspectors to move around a lot while investigating travelers, their bags and cargo. There are times when drugs and weapons are suspected; this makes the job of a customs inspector potentially dangerous. To ensure that an inspector can efficiently handle unsafe situations, he or she will undergo specific training before beginning this job.

How Much Do Customs Inspectors Earn?

The salaries for customs inspectors vary depending upon location, experience, the size of employer, and other factors. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report specific data for customs inspectors; but the similar occupations of detectives and criminal investigators earn a median annual salary of $81,920.

How Do I Become a Customs Inspector?

To prepare for a career as a customs inspector, you need at least a high school diploma. However, a bachelor’s or master’s degree can increase your chances of landing a job and being promoted quickly. In addition, you must pass a 15-week training course at the Customs Border Protection Academy. This course consists of classroom and practical skills that include interviewing, search and seizure methods, threat assessment, and legal regulations.

Additionally, customs inspectors must be U.S. citizens who can provide a valid driver’s license. Candidates must be under the age of 37, although some military veterans or law enforcement personnel older than 37 may qualify. They must pass a background check for security clearance and be able to pass fitness, drug, and medical tests. Finally, customs inspectors must make the grade on a final, comprehensive exam at the end of their training.

Concordia University, St. Paul offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal justice leadership. Both programs can help you develop the skills needed to excel as a customs inspector. In addition, the programs are offered in a convenient online format that allows you to study at a time and place that works best for you.