How Do I Become a Customs Inspector?

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  • Written By: Whitney Leigh White
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 03 July 2019
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The process of becoming a customs inspector will vary depending on the country in which you want to work. You typically will not be allowed to perform this job if you are not a citizen, so be prepared to provide proof of citizenship. A high school education is the minimum educational requirement you will have to hold, but most employers prefer that inspectors hold a bachelor's degree or higher. No matter what type of customs inspector you become, there are certain skills you should possess, including being in good physical health and having sound judgment.

Furthering your education after high school can prove to be beneficial when trying to become a customs inspector, especially since competition within this career field is high. Most times, you will need three years of inspection experience to become a customs inspector, but you may be able to substitute this with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. In addition to a high school or college education, in the United States you also have to complete an 11 to 15 week training program. The course is taken at the Customs Border Protection Academy and focuses on search and seizure processes, legal regulations, and other topics related to customs inspection.


In addition to providing proof of citizenship, most employers will require you to pass an exam that assesses your ability to make good decisions. You will also undergo an extensive background check, provide a negative drug test, and pass a physical examination. If for any reason you do not receive security clearance, you will not be able to become a customs inspector.

In the US, someone in the military or who is a veteran can become a customs inspector through special military programs. These programs are known as the Customs and Border Clearance Agent Program and the Military Customs Inspector-Excepted Program. If you part of the armed forces, it is best to speak with your local military police or your security forces commander as to which program you should complete.

As a customs inspector, you will be responsible for very vital job functions, making it imperative to master certain skills. If you are planning to become an armed inspector, you will need to complete a firearms course, which will teach you proper weapon skills. Your interviewing and communication skills should be top-notch, and your ability to identify people under illegal substances should also be first-rate. One of the best skills to attain as a customs inspector is being able to speak in foreign languages, especially Spanish, as it is a very common language spoken internationally.



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