How To Become A Customs Officer In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become customs officers in Australia and what their salary is.


Do you always visualize yourself as part of the Australian frontline defence team? Then, you are an ideal candidate to become a customs officer in Australia.


A Customs Officer is a law enforcement agent important in protecting the country. He administers and imposes customs regulations and laws on the part of the government and controls the entry and exit of the crew, passengers, ships, aircraft, mail, bond stores, and freights into and out of the country.


To make a professional career as a Customs Officer, you don't need to study for a university degree. Students who have completed a Year 10 education with a Cert IV or Year 12 or Year 10 education with a trade certificate can enter this profession.


The article gives you an overview of the required personal and academic requirements, courses, qualifications, responsibilities, job prospects, salary, and steps to becoming a customs officer in Australia.



1. Who Is A Custom Officer?


Customs Officers, also called Border Force Officers, are trained professionals who manage the integrity and security of a nation's borders.


They possess legal knowledge, physical fitness, critical thinking, and inspection abilities. It helps them effectively monitor goods and people that enter and leave the country and confront people who violate the law with necessary and reasonable actions.


Border Force Officers take care of indoors (including international airports and seaports) and outposts along the Australian seashore either themselves, in a team, or association with other law enforcement authorities.


They are responsible for checking international mail, passengers, luggage, crew, plants and animals, vehicles, aircraft, and ships to detect and prevent the unlawful entry of undocumented, illegal, prohibited, isolated, or dutiable goods and ensure full compliance with Australian regulations and laws.



2. What Does A Customs Officer Do?


When stationed at airports, a customs officer is responsible for processing passengers and checking people and luggage for dangerous or illegal substances. At ports, they check and supervise crew and consignment that enters and leaves the country.


Here is the complete list of duties of an Australian customs officer:


  • Thoroughly examine people, travellers, crew, goods, shipments, and vehicles that enter the national borders for suspicious, banned, and illegal substances. 

  • Monitor offshore activities and Australian patrol waters to catch and deter smugglers.

  • Process and evaluate risks of crew and passengers on arrival and departure 

  • Check aircraft and board ships for compliance with regulations.

  • Perform and administration tasks and paperwork on an occasional basis 

  • Inspect baggage, freight, and people for import or export

  • Look for criminal activities and seize and destroy banned imports.

  • Make arrests when the detection of illegal goods and provide evidence in court.

  • Stay updated with the details of Australia's legislation. 

  • Collect intelligence and information

  • Respond to queries from clients, passengers, and the general public

  • Collect excise duty, tax, and tariffs from tourists



3. What Tools And Technologies Do Customs Officers Use?


The following tools and technologies help border force officers to perform their duties efficiently:


  • Ion scanners and x-ray machines to check parcels, passengers, and baggage for armaments, drugs, and other hazardous substances. 

  • Specially trained detector dogs to identify prohibited goods. 

  • Smaller speed boats, large patrol vessels, and general maritime safety equipment to execute boarding operations. 

  • Firearms to deal with attackers



4. What Skills Are Needed To Become A Customs Officer In Australia?


Ensuring national safety and security is the primary job of a customs officer. 


The following attributes make you the best-suited candidate for this role:


  • Critical thinker

  • Effective communicator

  • Responsible

  • Physically fit

  • A high level of integrity

  • Determined

  • Methodical

  • High ethical standards

  • Professionalism

  • Mentally strong

  • Team player

  • Sound technical knowledge

  • Action-oriented

  • Good decision-making skills

  • Good interpersonal and customer service skills

  • Good numerical ability

  • Sound legal and government knowledge

  • Good managerial and planning skills

  • Authoritative

  • Able to travel and work in shifts



5. Qualifications To Become A Customs Officer In Australia


You need to fulfil the following eligibility conditions to pursue a career as a Board Force Officer in Australia:




6. Steps To Become A Customs Officer In Australia


If the job profile interests you, then here are the four simple steps to pursue this profession in Australia:



Step 1: Fulfill The Eligibility Conditions


Candidates should meet the age and educational requirements stated by the ABF.


Once this is complete, the next step is to fulfil minimum fitness, medical, aptitude, and psychometric requirements. Candidates should obtain the ABF Medical Assessment and pass a Basic fitness level Assessment.


Finally, aspiring trainees should provide an Employment Suitability Clearance that demonstrates their good character, ethical behaviour, and highest standards of integrity.



Step 2: Apply to the Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship


Those who meet the above minimum requirements can take the seven stages of the online self-assessment form as part of the intake process.


Undergoing these stages will help applicants clarify requirements and assess suitability for the position. All those who complete all the steps are allowed to join the traineeship.



Step 3: Go Through The 12 Months of Training


Upon selection for the traineeship, the recruits attend the ABF College classroom training for the initial six months and go through on-the-job training for the next six months. Trainees should remain flexible as they may need to travel outside their chosen region to pursue studies.


After completing the 12 months of training, trainees receive an entry-level position as a Border Force officer. You get an increment in salary as you begin working on the first job as a Customs Officer.



Step 4: Apply For Jobs


Candidates may or may not get a work placement in their chosen region. Those in the latter category can apply for entry-level border force officer recruitment.


The Australian Border Force keeps releasing Australian border force job openings on its website that allow you to work within and outside the country. 


The website enlists recruitment positions for Border Force Officers twice a year, mainly in May and November.


All those candidates who meet the qualifications criteria for customs officers and pass the ABF Medical Assessment are eligible to apply for the officer recruit training program. Click here to view the eligibility criteria for the Australian border force recruitment.


Based on previous work experience, and career choice, interested applicants can apply in the following three ways:




7. Border Security & Customs Certifications And Diploma Courses


Keeping citizens safe and comfortable upon arrival and departure requires an in-depth understanding of laws and standards and specialized training.


A nationally accredited customs officer courses TAFE in customs security and border security, acquaints students with legislation, organizational procedures, safety, marketing, records management, and government policy and prepares them for a fruitful career in the Australian public sector.


These courses are ideal for aspiring customs officers to kickstart or further their careers. Upon successful completion, they can qualify to work as a customs officer assistant, border protection officer assistant, or border protection officer.


Here we have mentioned a few potential career paths within border security and customs to help you make the right start in this industry.



Certificate II in Security Operations


This course qualifies a student to secure a security license that opens the door to a rewarding career within the security industry. The course equips you with the skills to handle critical incidents or deter crime at high-risk facilities.


A Certificate II in Security Operations prepares a student to take the following advanced courses: Certificate III in Security Operations / a Certificate IV in Security and Risk Management. 


These courses help students to skill up and improve employment opportunities. Below is the list of top Australian institutes that offer this certification program.


  • Gippsland TAFE

  • Kangan Institute TAFE Victoria

  • CORE Security Training

  • Australian Training Academy

  • Tactical Training Australia



Certificate IV in Security Management


This is another highly sought qualification within the security industry. It is ideal for security business managers and security supervisors to help them implement electronic security and guarding services for clients under complex contracting and regulatory arrangements.


Interested students can attend this course at the following training centres in Australia:


  • Core Security

  • Westbourne College

  • Churchill Education



Certificate III in Security Operations


This qualification enables a candidate to undertake screening operations at airports, detention centres, and courthouses. You can study the course in classroom-based and external study modes with comprehensive learning resources and trainer assistance.


Following are the training institutions in Australia to enrol in for this course:


  • CLET

  • Core Security

  • Strike Training And Consulting

  • Australian Training Academy



Certificate IV in Security Risk Analysis


This qualification is for security risk analysts to train them to apply technical security operations in a risk management environment. Further, it teaches them to protect people, property, and electronic security systems in crowded places. 


Interested candidates can pursue this course in the following training schools and centres in Australia:


  • Strike Training And Consulting

  • Westbourne College

  • CLET

  • Precision Training Academy

  • ASEC

  • NSTA



Diploma of Security Risk Management


The diploma customs officer course provides a thorough understanding of potential security risks in an organization and the methods to mitigate those risks via isolation, protection, and elimination.


Students who wish to take this course can refer to the below websites for more information:



  • Core Security Training

  • CLET Training

  • Australian Forensic Services

  • SCS Training Institute

  • Gold Coast Training College

  • Security Training



Certificate III in Close Protection Operations


This is an ideal certification program for those who want to become licensed bodyguards. 


This nationally accredited qualification teaches ways to promote security and safety at a place through negotiation and conflict resolution skills, empty hand techniques for securing premises, maintaining situational awareness, and more.


You can avail of this course in the following Australian training schools and institutions:


  • CLET Training 

  • International Security Training Academy

  • Speedy Course

  • Queensland Skills Gateway

  • Precision Training Academy

  • Security Institute



Certificate IV in Government Security (Personnel Vetting)


The qualification is best suited for students and professionals who seek occupational-specific competencies to undertake government security-related functions.


Undergoing this course, a student learns how to apply specialized skills and knowledge in specific settings in the security environment.


The following tertiary institutes in Australia offer this course:


  • CLET Training

  • Canberra Institute of Technology

  • Asset College

  • Australian Forensic Services 



8. Work conditions Of A Customs Officer In Australia



Work Hours


Customs officers work overtime on weekends, public holidays, and peak travel. 


Working under stress, pressure, and challenging outdoor environments, managing complex workloads, and meeting deadlines are part of their work schedule.



Nature of Employment


Border Patrol personnel typically work full-time, around 40 hours per week. While working in this profession, you can expect deployment at short notice to different regional or interstate offices and departments in Australia as per the operational requirements.


Border Force Officers usually work as a team or under supervision in close contact with clients and partner agencies. While at work, they often deal with upset, agitated, or otherwise aggressive travellers.



Uniform And Accessories


Customs Officers wear a universal service uniform and carry firearms to deal with sudden and destructive situations.





Border Force officers work at various locations throughout the country, such as international airports, seaports, and regional centres on the coastline.



9. Employment Opportunities For A Customs Officer In Australia


There are numerous roles available for qualified and well-trained customs officers who like working outdoors or at the airports under challenging conditions such as:


  • Junior customs and import clerk

  • Customs officer assistant

  • Border protection officer assistant

  • Border protection officer

  • Custom service officer

  • Operations officer

  • Security Officer

  • Logistics officer

  • Customs compliance officer

  • Fleet assets and systems administration officer


The Australian Public Service or the Border Force website advertise job openings for this position.


An experienced Customs Officer can progress their career by achieving specialization as a Customs Broker offering support and advice to people in customs, import, export, and quarantine procedures.


Other areas of specialization include:


  • Immigration Officer

  • Maritime Border Command (Marine Unit)



10. Job Outlook For A Customs Officer In Australia


Safeguarding borders is a continuous challenge that many nations face, including Australia. Due to the future growth potential of security, the industry looks quite optimistic.


Considering the heavy demand for public safety, many customs officer job opportunities will likely emerge in the coming years.



11. How Much Does A Customers Officer Earn In Australia?


The average airport customs officer's salary in Australia is $61,562.


The average hourly and annual customs officer in Australia's salary is $42 per hour and $86,455, respectively. The employment data shows that most officers also receive an average bonus of $1,937.


Where the average salary of an entry-level customs officer (with 1 to 3 years of experience) is $62,459, a senior-level customs officer (with 8+ years of experience) earns an average of $106,595.



12. Conclusion


A career as a customs officer gives you a great opportunity and responsibility to safeguard your country. 


Those planning to pursue this career should prepare to work in a fast-paced, dynamic, and challenging environment. You can become a successful customs officer with dedication, a high level of integrity, and professionalism.


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