The salaries of U.S. customs agents are set on a pre-determined salary scale. The specific pay grade an agent will receive depends on qualifications, experience, and competition-based promotions. Customs agents also receive additional pay based on location and overtime. Base salary scales and locality pay are reviewed every year.
Entry Level Base Salaries
Entry-level salaries of U.S. customs agents are paid according to the standardized salary table for law enforcement officers set by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. New hires start at either the GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9 pay grades. As of 2011, GL-5 starts at $35,672 a year, GL-7 starts at $38,511 a year and GL-9 has salaries starting at $42,948 a year. Pay grade depends on the agent's qualifications. After a probationary period of six and a half months, those at GL-5 are eligible for promotion to GL-7 and those at GL-7 are eligible for promotion to GL-9.
Base Salary Increases
Agents employed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection after one year under the GL-9 pay grade are normally promoted to another pay grade. These pay grades, GS-11 and GS-12, are set by the general table as stipulated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. As of 2011, starting salaries for those on the GS-11 pay grade are at $50,287 a year, and those on GS-12 start off on $60,274 a year. Pay increases above these pay grades are usually awarded based on merit and competition.
In addition to the base salaries earned according to pay grade, customs agents are also eligible for further pay increases based on location. These increases are based on a percentage of base pay, and are a minimum of 14.16 percent as of 2011. This minimum increases for customs agents working in larger cities. For example, those in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside area in California earn an extra 27.16 percent of base pay, and those in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area in Florida receive an additional 20.79 percent. Agents also receive additional pay for overtime, which may be between 10 and 25 percent of base pay.
U.S. customs agents, in addition to their salary, receive an annual leave which varies according to years of service. Those with less than three years of service receive 13 days leave per year, those with between 15 and 20 years of service get 20 days of leave, and those with 15 years or more service get more than 26 days a year in annual leave. Up to 13 days of sick leave may be earned in one year for all employees. Optional life and health insurance are also available.
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