What is a Customs Inspector?

A customs inspector works in law enforcement, enforcing the laws that governs imports and exports. They inspect those entering and exiting the border. They work to ensure security against terrorists and terrorist acts, inspect travelers for citizenship and passports, and enforce the trade regulations through local, state, city, and country law enforcement officials.

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What does a Customs Inspector do?

In the United States, a customs inspector works for the Department of Homeland Security, which is a branch of the federal government. In other countries, customs inspectors work for the government under different program titles. They enforce the laws of the land that control the imports and exports that are allowed into and out of the country. They help to protect against terrorists and terrorist activities by the inspection of travelers coming in and out of the country and by inspecting cargo. The inspector works with all types of law enforcement agencies, both on the state and national level, to find potential threats, illegal substances, and even illegal travelers.

Customs inspectors work with many different law agencies including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration. When inspecting cargo, a customs inspector may work with freight companies and other types of agencies to verify the cargo contents before allowing them into the country. The inspector is responsible for inspecting all of the cargo, viewing the documentation of the cargo, and clearing the cargo for release. The inspector is also responsible for finding potentially hazardous materials or unlawful contents in the cargo to prevent them from being brought illegally into the country.

All countries have their own form of customs inspectors and they all vary slightly in their responsibilities. Many countries require their customs inspectors to be armed to prevent threats that can try to invade the country. It is important to understand a country's laws on customs inspectors so that one knows what to expect in this field.

What does it take to be a Customs Inspector?

The requirements to become a customs inspector vary by state and country. While some countries only require the bare minimum of a high school diploma, some require a Bachelor's degree. In the US, all potential inspectors must pass a fifteen-week training program course at the Customs Border Training Academy. It is through this course that an inspector will learn all that they need to know to protect the borders of their country. Students in this type of training will learn different key skills including interviewing, legal regulations, searching techniques, and threat assessment techniques. This is valuable training for a new customs inspector.

It is important to note that all customs inspectors must be of a certain age, depending on the country they reside in. They must have proof of citizenship and pass extensive background screenings. An inspector must also pass regular drug, fitness, and medical examinations as a part of their pre-employment screening and ongoing employment testing.

Customs inspectors must have good judgment and critical thinking skills to carry out the responsibilities of the job. Many customs agents are required to be skilled in foreign languages so that they may communicate with travelers who speak other languages.

Inspectors may also be trained to work with K-9 dogs to understand how to give commands and use the dogs to inspect areas that they may miss or are unable to access. An inspector learns how to work with the dogs to gain the best advantage over illegal people and substances that may be entering into the country.

What is the workplace of a Customs Inspector like?

Customs inspectors mainly work at airports, seaports, and outposts. They may work indoors or outdoors, depending on what type of station they are working in. In airports, they work closely with the baggage claims and passenger registration departments.

At seaports and outposts, the inspectors may work outside frequently as they inspect cargo ships and planes coming into and out of the country. This outside work will expose them to many different weather conditions and temperatures. Most customs inspectors do not have offices and are on their feet throughout the day. They also move around a lot while investigating travelers, luggage, and cargo.

Their workplace can also be quite dangerous for an inspector. When drugs and weapons are involved, the inspector can be in even greater danger. This is why training is so important, so that the inspector is capable of handling all the types of issues that may arise on the job. Inspectors who carry firearms are more protected than those who are not given the privilege.

How much does a Customs Inspector earn?

As with any career choice, the salary and wages of a customs inspector can vary greatly depending on the amount of experience and education that one holds. The country or state that one is working in can also have a great impact on the inspector's pay.

In the United States, the median income for inspectors is around $35,000 per year. Those with several years of experience can earn as much as $55,000 per year. The classification of an inspector will determine what salary they are started at and how far they are able to climb within the ranks of inspectors.

Learn more about being a Customs Inspector

Employment Stats

Certificate or Associate's degree required

Growing by 2.0% over the next 8 years

$78K Average annual salary