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Border Services Officer

Border services officers (BSO) protect the security, safety and health of Canada by interacting with visitors entering the country and Canadians returning home. They also monitor the flow of goods across the border and guard against prohibited and illegal items and substances.

  • Avg. Salary $62,750.00
  • Avg. Wage $32.86
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,200
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Officer, Customs Inspector, Inspector, Investigator, Law Enforcement Officer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Border services officers (BSO) protect Canadian society, the environment and industry. They do this by preventing the illegal importation of items (for example, controlled substances, guns, hate literature) and guarding against the introduction of human, animal and plant diseases into our society.

In the course of enforcing laws relating to customs and excise, BSO inspect goods imported for either personal or commercial use, and deal directly with the travelling public at airports, seaports and highway border points. As they may be the first designated immigration officials newcomers meet, they must not only enforce Canadian laws and regulations but act as goodwill ambassadors as well.

In general, BSO:

  • examine documents and interview travellers and importers
  • detain people who may pose a threat to Canada
  • deny entry to people who are inadmissible to Canada (for example, those involved in terrorism, organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanity)
  • examine personal and commercial shipments, monitor the movement of goods and intercept illegal goods entering or leaving the country
  • use established rules to determine taxable value and applicable duty and sales tax rates on imported goods, and ensure correct duties and taxes are collected 
  • protect food safety and the environment by stopping prohibited or hazardous products arriving at air, land or sea ports
  • conduct investigations and enforce customs regulations
  • explain the laws they enforce to members of the public
  • add information to a computerized information database.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Border services officers (BSO) work at highway and rail border crossings, postal plants, airports, seaports and inland offices. Shift work is required because ports of entry generally operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Overtime and travel are sometimes required. Some offices are located in isolated areas. BSO should be prepared to accept a posting anywhere in Canada.

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Border services officers need to possess:

  • interested in law enforcement
  • confidence
  • physical fitness
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • good decision-making skills
  • ability to deal effectively with the public.

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, analyzing information to determine admissibility of goods, and handling goods and baggage.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 10, 2017

To become border services officers (BSO),  candidates need an acceptable combination of education, training and experience. The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma. BSO officers must also possess a valid driver's license and must have completed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC).

Previous experience or education related to law enforcement is preferred. Experience in the following is an asset:

  • measuring compliance and imposing penalties or sanctions for violations
  • gathering information in an investigative setting or pressure situation
  • using interview and examination techniques to obtain information
  • providing advice or services to the general public
  • processing and handling import or export documentation.

Some additional conditions may be required in order to be appointed to an officer trainee position. Officer trainees must complete 3 phases of training before becoming BSO. The 3 phases include:

  • general orientation at home through distance learning
  • officer training and assessment at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Main Campus in Riguad, Quebec
  • on-the-job training, guidance and formal study at any one of CBSA's ports of entry across Canada.

For more information on the conditions of employment for the BSO position, see the CBSA website.

For more information about Alberta post-secondary programs related to law enforcement, see the Police Officer occupational profile.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Border services officers (BSO) are employed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Experienced BSO may compete for positions in customs supervision, management, administration, investigations, intelligence, detector dog services, compliance verification - trade, client services - trade, program services or international operations.

BSO are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1228: Immigration, Employment Insurance and Revenue Officers. In Alberta, 95% of people employed in this classification work in the Public Administration (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Public Administration industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 10, 2017

For detailed salary information, see the border services officers' collective agreement, which is available through the Treasury Board of Canada.

Employment insurance, immigration, border services and revenue officers
NOC code: 1228

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $20.87 $34.96 $28.64 $27.88
Overall $25.02 $43.47 $32.86 $30.13
Top $27.99 $45.86 $34.61 $32.20

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Physical Education
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Information Processing
    • Management and Marketing
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 10, 2017

Canada Border Services Agency website, become a CBSA officer:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 14, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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