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Customs officer (Border Force officer)

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Summary of occupation

The role of customs officers is now performed by Border Force officers. Border Force officers check people and goods entering Australia for illegal and prohibited substances. They work in airports and ports around Australia, examining passengers, luggage, cargo, mail and the crews of planes and ships to prevent the illegal entry into Australia of prohibited, quarantined or dutiable goods. They also patrol Australian waters to intercept and deter people smugglers. When illegal goods are detected, Border Force officers have the power to make arrests, and may provide evidence in court.

ANZSCO description: Administers and enforces customs and related legislation, and assists with customs control of overseas passengers, crew, aircraft, ships, cargo, mail and bond stores.
Alternative names: Customs Inspector
Specialisations: Customs Investigator
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A Border Force officer needs:

  • to be able to work as part of a team
  • interpersonal skills
  • to be flexible and resourceful
  • good communication skills
  • to remain calm and patient in high pressure situations
  • high ethical standards
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Working conditions

Border Force officers work in airports, ports and in regional centres on the coast throughout Australia. In Western Australia there are Customs offices in Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Christmas Island, Dampier, Esperance, Fremantle, Geraldton, Perth and Port Hedland. Most Border Force officers transfer between a number of departments and offices throughout their career, which may require moving to regional locations or interstate. A number of roles within the Customs service involves shiftwork, which may include working nights, weekends and public holidays.

Border Force officers have a high level of contact with the public and often have to deal with people who are upset, angry or otherwise confrontational.

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Salary details

Trainee and cadet Border Force officers can expect to earn between $816 and $904 per week ($42 419 and $47 004 per year). Once their training period ends, a Border Force officer can expect to earn at least $1 153 per week ($59 933 per year), depending on their duties and level of experience.

 As a Border Force officer gains experience and progresses through the ranks their pay rate increases.

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Tools and technologies

Border Force officers use equipment such as x-ray machines and ion scanners to check passengers, luggage and parcels for drugs, weapons and other illegal or dangerous substances. Border Force officers also use specially trained detector dogs to locate certain prohibited goods. The Border Force Marine Unit uses large patrol vessels and smaller speed boats for boarding operations, along with general maritime safety equipment. Some Border Forces officers may also carry firearms.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a Border Force officer within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) you must pass the Australian Border Force recruitment process and complete training at the Australian Border Force College.

Applicants must be an Australian citizen, at least 18 years old and meet medical, fitness, aptitude and psychometric requirements for the role.

You must also obtain an Employee Suitability Clearance from the DIBP and a minimum Baseline Commonwealth security clearance from the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency.

Successful applicants are required to attend a six month training program at the Australian Border Force College. Upon completion the training, you become a probationary officer and participate in a series of work placements for six months. After successfully completing your work placement you will then become a Border Force officer.

Contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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