© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Real Poop

Are you generally a patriotic person? Do you want to do something to help your country? ¿Se habla Español (¿qué?)? If you answered yes () to all of these questions, maybe you should consider a career as a Border Patrol Agent.

Border Patrol Agents are responsible for patrolling (oh, that's where that comes from) the United States' 6,000+ miles of international borders and almost 100,000 miles of shoreline. Agents average a nice $80,000 a year to apprehend immigrants trying to enter the country illegally and search high and low for any would-be terrorists attempting to enter as well (source). 

They prevent smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people, and help keep towns near borders safe. They employ so-called "Smart Border" technology to help develop new strategies for keeping the border secure.

They also try really hard to do it all without hurting anyone (at least, that's the plan).

Since 2001, the Border Patrol has steadily increased its efforts to hire qualified applicants. To be considered by the U.S. Customs Service, you must possess a clean criminal record, pass a background and drug screening test, speak or be able to learn Spanish, and be willing to learn certain areas of criminal justice (source). If you're going to be laying down the law, you'd better understand it.

You'll also have to be fit enough to pass their rigorous physical training tests, which include running long distances, climbing, swimming, and heavy lifting. If you've never even gone for a run before, you might want to reconsider this career choice. Running's kind of a big deal here.

In Alaska they use dogs for more than just bomb-sniffing. (Source)

Patrolling America's thousands of miles of territorial edges isn't a recent development. The U.S. Border Patrol was founded way back in 1924, with only 450 agents for the 48 states (source). Today, there are over 20,000 agents—very few of whom have anything to do with the country adding two more states in 1959.

Not every Border Patrol Agent is baking in the heat; some are chilling in much colder temperatures. After all, the longest continual border in between two countries in the entire world is the one between the U.S. and Canada. 

Agents patrol the mountainous border on horseback, all-terrain vehicles, and special-issued skis. These agents don't get to wait inside with hot chocolate until it stops snowing—they've gotta patrol the borders during even the most extreme winter weather conditions.

We don't want any dead lizards, or people for that matter. Let's just go with no killing things on the job. (Source)

Then there are the wild and wet agents monitoring the U.S. shoreline using watercrafts and aircrafts. These agents aren't allowed to drink hot chocolate while maneuvering their vehicles either.

A screw-up on the job can lead to bad press, tense relations, and even injuries and deaths, so the Border Patrol sends applicants for two months of serious on-the-job training at a facility in New Mexico. This protects everyone, including the applicant being trained. 

There are places along the border that are dangerous to patrol. You don't want to send some uneducated militiaman out into the desert with a gun and a prayer without first making sure they're not going to just start shooting at anything that moves.

If you put in your time, you can eventually be making good money, but it'll be hard-earned. You'll be placed in precarious situations where you have to make split-second decisions. You'll see a side of American life that most people can't even imagine. People will get mad at you for doing your job. And you'll also have to fill out a lot of paperwork (beware the hand cramps).

You have an enormous responsibility and the Border Patrol's work is ongoing. You'll need to be seriously dedicated to protecting your nation's borders if you want this to work.