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Occupation Info

Customs Inspector

Overview: Customs inspectors examine cargo, baggage and articles worn by persons entering or leaving the country by aircraft, vehicles or ships to prevent smuggling of drugs, jewels, artworks, weapons, stolen goods, etc. They conduct body searches and question suspicious persons. May make arrests.
Duties: They survey persons entering the country at international entrypoints such as airports, and shipping ports in order to identify potential smugglers. May search ships, planes & trains.

They examine luggage contents and person's clothing to locate smuggled goods and look for places in luggage that can serve as concealed compartments.

They interview persons suspected of smuggling and ask questions designed to reveal emotions suggesting guilt. May use dogs to sniff hidden narcotics.

They search, apprehend and arrest suspects and smugglers. They confiscate goods and attempt to identify all persons who act as accomplices. May testify in court.

Degree(s): A.A. Liberal Arts and Sciences 
A.S. Liberal Arts and Sciences (Mathematics and Science) 
Job Outlook: Employment of customs inspectors is expected to grow as fast as average through 2018 driven by an expected increase in the number of workers retiring from the Federal government.
Salary Range (National Average): $28,000 to $31,000
Growth: Growth
Education Level: Training for this occupation generally requires an Associate Degree from a 2 year or community college.
Additional Training/Education: Customs inspectors are employed by the U.S. Treasury Department which prefers applicants with an associate degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. A college degree will improve your promotion potential. To qualify, an applicant must pass a physical examination, oral exam and a personal background investigation.
Recommended Skills:
  • Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.
  • Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.
  • Being aware of the reactions of others, and understanding why they react the way they do.
  • The ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.
  • Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.
  • Composing and communicating your ideas in written form.
Recommended Values:
  • Having a routine job where the duties are very predictable and not likely to change over a long period of time.

* National data collected by the Department of Labor between 2008-2012.
* For New York salary data information please click here
* For New York green job information please click here.

Understanding acquiring positions in this field may be enhanced through continuing academic study (i.e. earning a baccalaureate or a master's degree) and/or work experience in the field, Queensborough Community College has established transfer agreements with other institutions for students who wish to further pursue their educational goals. Students are highly encouraged to meet with one of our Career Services Advisor to fully understand the opportunities available through study in their degree program.