Average Salary: $70,910
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,664,000
Agents start making money as soon as they begin to train at the Border Patrol Academy. In addition to the pay, agents receive free lodging, meals, and a daily allowance. It's kind of like the allowance you might get in high school for doing chores, only your current chores involve protecting the country. Even the most tightly-wound mothers would think that's a little too much pressure.
Once training is complete, U.S. Customs officers start to pull in the big bucks. Border Patrol Agents start making between $40,000-$50,000 a year based on the level that they were initially hired into (source). There are several possible levels (or government schedules) for entry patrol agents depending on placement: GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9—fancy titles right there.
Work enough hours and process enough paperwork, and you could climb to GS-12 and make over a hundred grand, including overtime and benefits—fancy enough for you now? That's what's nice about having a government job like this. Job security is incredible, and as long as you don't get fired, you're guaranteed a fair share of taxpayer funding.
The amount of money it takes to live somewhere is one of those added benefits. Uncle Sam provides for living costs, so Border Patrol Agents make more money if they're stationed in an area that has a high cost of living, like big cities. Those stationed in San Diego or Buffalo are going to get a bigger chunk than those living in a cabin in Montana or a shack in Arizona.
You'll find that stepping up to the better income levels comes fast. Agents are quickly promoted after they have completed their first year. It's possible to be making upwards of $70,000 after only three years, and that doesn't include a bazillion hours of overtime—which is a pretty big deal at your local Border Patrol office.
Most agents work in the neighborhood of sixty hours a week, with all those extra hours getting paid up to twenty-five percent extra. They don't even need to pay for their own outfits: agents receive $1,500 in uniform allowance.
Even the cowboy hat, you ask? Yes, even the cowboy hat.