Whitton, Jordan - Canadian Border Services Officer

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[edit] Canadian Border Services Officer

[edit] General Overview

Border service officers (BSO’s) work diligently to ensure and maintain Canada’s security and prosperity by managing the access of people and goods to and from the country. Border officers generally carry out primary inspections at international airports across the country, looking for contraband, narcotics, or bio hazardous materials dangerous to the Canadian environment. Border officers process more than 97 million travellers, 200,000 immigrants and refugees, and over 12 million commercial releases; collect several billion dollars’ worth of duties and taxes; and administer import and export requirements for some 30,000 animals and plants. They are “Canada’s first line of defense in preventing inadmissible people, contraband and other illegal substances from coming into the country” (“Before You Apply”, 2014). BSOs also “contribute to the fight against international terrorism and illegal immigration” (“Before You Apply”, 2014).

[edit] Job duties and responsibilities

➢ CBSO’s must inspect all travel documents and travelling goods entering Canada in order to ensure that they are admissible and not in violation of Canadian laws/regulations

➢ Maintain vigilance and watch for signs of human trafficking and combat the movement of illegal aliens.

➢ Assist in the combat of money laundering, and stem the flow of narcotics, firearms, child pornography, and other such items prohibited by Canadian law

➢ CBSO’s must identify possible threats to Canada and detain them in a secure environment until they can be examined

➢ Inspect incoming products and luggage to prevent the spread of various diseases/invasive species of plant/animal

➢ Should the need arise, CBSO’s may need to apply sanctions and seize goods

➢ If all of the luggage and products are admissible into Canada, then all applicable duties/taxes on goods/persons entering the country must be paid

(Before You Apply, 2014)

[edit] Typical Workday

➢ “Work various shifts on rotation, including weekends and statutory holidays” (Frequently Asked Questions, 2014)

➢ Wear and maintain a uniform as per the Canadian Border Security Officer (CBSO) uniform policy and standards of appearance

A typical workday as a CBSO involves securing the various Canadian border areas, enforcing Canadian law, and ensuring the safety of the country and its citizens. Working at any major border will involve looking for discrepancies and warning behaviour that might indicate a possible threat, and to assess the situation carefully before acting in a decisive manner. The procurement and processing of legal documentation if you are posted to checking passports, looking particularly for forgeries, invalid paperwork, or intentional tampering with legal documentation to conceal/alter information (Frequently Asked Questions, 2014) (What We Do, 2012).

During busy times, the process of checking individuals might become less thorough as Border Services Officers will need to process larger volumes of travellers more quickly. During this time BSO’s must maintain a heightened vigilance and situational awareness so that they do not pass over important warning signs. During slow/quiet times, BSO’s can take their time and apply minor examination strategies (trigger questions/phrases) and fish for information that the traveller might wish kept hidden (What We Do, 2012).

In rural settings BSO’s might require more knowledge of farm equipment, firearms, and livestock related laws, as they will have contact more frequently with these items. It is important that BSO’s have extensive knowledge and be able to ask the right questions in these areas to ensure proper Canadian law is being followed and maintained (“Border Services agents raid Skotidakis dairy farm”, 2015) (“Directory of CBSA Offices”, 2015).

You may also work at ports and be required to have detailed knowledge of ships ranging from cruise ship/tanker size to small fishing boats. You will need to know the laws that govern such vessels and their wares (“Cruise Ship Operations”, 2015).

[edit] Educational Requirements and other qualifications

➢ Must have successfully completed a secondary school education

➢ Must possess and maintain a valid driver’s license (renewed every 5 years after G)

➢ Must have successfully completed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) (Licenses last forever once acquired)

➢ Must be capable and willing to move around the country to wherever the CBSO requires you (non-negotiable)

➢ When involved in the candidate process, you must pay for your own travel expenses when attending tests, interview(s), physical abilities, medical, and psychological assessments, as well as expenses related to meeting some operational requirements and conditions of employment

➢ Must have a valid Standard First Aid Certificate (must be renewed yearly)

➢ Must obtain and maintain a secret security clearance as per CBSO security standards (yearly checks performed to ensure continued eligibility)

➢ Secret Security Clearance – Level 2 Canadian Government Clearance (renewed every 10 years)

(Before You Apply, 2015)

Should you desire to work with wildlife protection you may require a WHSC license which can be completed alongside your CFSC and CRFSC courses by a certified instructor. (Lifetime license)

In addition to the firearms safety courses and valid driver's license in the basic requirements, there are two other operational requirements candidates must meet to be appointed to the officer trainee position:

➢ Successful completion of the Agency's physical abilities standard, the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE) in 4 minutes and 45 seconds (PARE Fitness Preparation, 2015) (SEE VIDEO BELOW) (yearly evaluations will be conducted to ensure maintained fitness)

➢ Successfully complete the CBSO Officer Induction Training Program (OITP) (FAQ, 2015)

      • Only after completing all of the above and two years of probationary period spent at the trainee level, will candidates be offered full time employment with a full officer’s salary.

[edit] Related Skills, Interests, and Abilities

Attention to detail: When inspecting people and their luggage, BSO’s must be able to pick out specific behaviours, facial expressions, and be able to cue in on suspicious looking items/circumstances. As a CBSO, small imperfections, or too perfect situations need to be recognized and assessed to ensure there is nothing sinister occurring.

Communication Skills: BSO’s will need to employ effective communication strategies daily, as they will constantly be in situations requiring them to speak with travellers. BSO’s must be able to maintain a smooth conversation that addresses specific items, and if the situation requires, they must be able to ask awkward questions in difficult situations of the travellers.

Abstract/creative problem solving skills: It is important for BSO's to be able to imagine and implement creative strategies/solutions to the variety of problems/situations that will arise during the course of an average work day.

Critical thinking: BSO’s will be required to employ critical thinking practices, drawing logical connections between ideas and asking important questions where doubt or uncertainty exists. Border agents must use caution regarding any knowledge they come into possession of, for not everything travellers tell them is true, and not every traveller is guilty of a crime even if preliminary evidence indicates they are. BSO’s must not take anything at face value and always striver for deeper understanding.

Conflict resolution: Angry and distraught travellers will confront BSO’s, and officers need to be able to calm these individuals down so that they can do their job effectively.

Patience: Passengers are not always forthcoming about their intentions or luggage, or they may not speak English very well and so require a breakdown of the information they are being told, or they may believe they know more of the law than they actually do. It is an officer’s duty to have the patience to deal with such passengers and situations, and to effectively communicate the appropriate information at the time.

Self-discipline: BSO’s must remain in control of themselves at all times, as they will be confronted with many difficult and trying situations. Disgruntled passengers, or dangerous criminals could stimulate anger or fear. It is the officer’s duty to remain calm in such circumstances and follow regulation and protocol.

Honesty/Integrity: Border officers seize large quantities of money, valuable goods, and drugs every day. They must resist temptations and follow procedure, declaring in their reports all seized goods and turning them in to evidence. There have been issues in the past with Border agents and officers stealing peoples lost goods, or seizing goods without declaring them, such actions are punished severely when discovered.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology and Undergraduate Degree

A large part of protecting the Canadian border involves identifying behaviours that indicate there is an issue, children who are fearful of their ‘parents’, travellers who are more nervous than they should be, travellers that get angry when asked to search their belongings. BSO’s must be able to discriminate between the real and imagined threats; as such a psychology degree would be of great value and benefit as you will have spent the last 4 years studying the human mind and how it functions. Psychology graduates are not lie detectors but they certainly have more insider knowledge of how the human mind works than non-psych educated individuals.

According to Robert K. Merton’s theory, criminal’s resort to crime due to being unable to make money through normal socially accepted means. Keeping this theory in mind, when BSO’s are looking at peoples countries of emigration, certain ones have a higher population of poverty and crime, and asking questions about where an individual grew up, and their current occupation could uncover key elements. Poor villagers from Malaysia should not be able to afford a luxurious flight to Canada and all the accommodations. This should raise red flags.

Using Sigmund Freud’s theories and ideas on human instinctual drives, officers can understand basic motivators and reactionary behavioural patterns that law breakers will exhibit, and some of their motivations behind such behaviours. Using Freud’s theories, one can assess an individual’s ego and get an understanding of the individual’s basic temperament and thought processes; while it is by no means an in-depth look at who they are as people, quick, impromptu application of basic theories can help to understand the travellers they are scrutinizing.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is another theory that can be applied to protecting the Canadian borders. Incoming tourists/travellers generally have sufficient funds to pay for their stay and a return trip, they also usually have a current career/occupation in their home country that they will be returning to. Investigation into their finances and a few questions about their current state of employment could yield information that indicates that this individual shouldn’t be able to be vacationing in Canada with their available funds. This could suggest that they are travelling on someone else’s expenses for criminal reasons. Generally people with no money or who are from more dangerous countries/parts of the country are not high enough on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to be able to self indulge enough to go on a vacation.

Behaviourist theories suggest that behaviour is learned and dictated by the environment in which an individual resides, as such border officers can use their knowledge of which countries frequent criminal activity comes out of, to proactively screen travellers. Basic understanding of abnormal psychology and specific conditions can help officers to identify individual’s who look suspicious until their symptoms are explained, and if an individual claims to be acting in a certain manner due to said illness, they can assess whether the symptoms seem genuine or not.

[edit] Salary Potential

Salary is not region specific, this is a general range for all Canadian CBSO’s

CBSO officer trainee - $58,078 - $64,859 Average income: 61,000 BSO - $56,000 – $71,000 CBSA Government listed: Average income of $65,000 (Before You Apply, 2014)

Indeed.ca: $70,000 (CBSA Indeed, 2012)

Glassdoor.ca: $65,000 (CBSA Glassdoor, 2015)

[edit] Job Outlook

As there the country expands, and more ports of entry and exit are constructed, or old ports are expanded, there will be more opportunities for employment. Canada is very much a growing nation and so it can be expected that there are many opportunities for employment as long as you meet their requirements (Report on Plans and Priorities, 2013) (CBSA Three-year Strategic Plan, 2009).

[edit] To Know More

http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/safe_sur/index-eng.htm (Firearms Information)

http://www.CBSO-asfc.gc.ca/job-emploi/bso-asf/sa-ae-eng.html (BSA self-assessment questionnaire to determine if this is the job for you)

http://www.CBSO-asfc.gc.ca/job-emploi/bso-asf/pare-tape-eng.html (PARE fitness preparation)

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/help-aide/faq1-eng.html (CBSA FAQ)

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/actreg-loireg-eng.html (List of CBSA responsibilities)

http://www.sja.ca/English/Courses-and-Training/Pages/Course%20Descriptions/CPR-AED-Courses.aspx?gclid=CjwKEAiAmaanBRCIt4364e2d6yUSJAA9VXTUBedF3EAxRSZ1NEDSQ4QUf0Zo5-ZLECvmUwEHZX44ghoCFA3w_wcB (St. Catherines CPR training)

http://www.fseso.org/ (Information on Firearms safety education in Ontario)

[edit] References

Frequently Asked Questions. (2014, Oct 23). Retrieved from http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/job-emploi/bso-asf/faq-eng.html

Before you Apply. (2014, Jul 09). Retrieved from http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/job-emploi/bso-asf/hiring-embauche-eng.html

Canada Border Services Agency. (2012, Sep 10). Retrieved from http://ca.indeed.com/cmp/Canada-Border-Services-Agency/salaries?from=reviews

Canada Border Services Agency. (2015, Feb 6). Retrieved from http://www.glassdoor.ca/Salary/Canada-Border-Services-Agency-Salaries-E107408.htm

Report on Plans and Priorities. (2013, Mar 28). Retrieved from http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/reports-rapports/rpp/2013-2014/report-rapport-eng.html

CBSA Three-Year Strategic Plan. (2009, Feb 12) Retrieved from http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2008-2009/inst/bsf/bsf05-eng.asp

What We Do. (2012, Mar 27). Retrieved from http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/what-quoi-eng.html

Frequently Asked Questions. (2014, Oct 23). Retrieved from http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/job-emploi/bso-asf/faq-eng.html

Directory of CBSA Offices. (2015, Mar 23). Retrieved from http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/do-rb/menu-eng.html

Cruise Ship Operations. (2015, Mar 23). Retrieved from http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/do-rb/services/cso-onc-eng.html

Border Services agents raid Skotidakis dairy farm. (2015, Mar 25). Retrieved from http://www.cfra.com/news/2015/03/25/border-services-agents-raid-skotidakis-dairy-farm

Report on Plans Priorities. (2013, Mar 28). Retrieved from http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/agency-agence/reports-rapports/rpp/2013-2014/report-rapport-eng.html

CBSA Three-Year Strategic Plan. (2009, Feb 12) Retrieved from http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2008-2009/inst/bsf/bsf05-eng.asp

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