Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE Agents

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for an important sector of the nation’s safety. It is the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security and maintains enforcement of the nation’s immigration and customs law.

These duties are carried out by a variety of different individuals involved in law enforcement, as well as intelligence and mission support. ICE agents are uniquely responsible for contributing to the safety and security of our country. A job as an ICE agent is rewarding but requires a certain level of preparation to ensure an individual’s capability to serve and protect.

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Responsibilities and Duties as an ICE Agent

ICE agents are involved in settling issues in one of two areas – customs or immigration. Within these areas, agents are generally assigned a variety of different tasks that may involve different areas such as border patrol, human trafficking, child exploitation, cyber-crime, deportation, and even intelligence gathering.

The specific tasks or duties of an ICE agent vary depending on his or her specific locale; however, there are a number of different duties for which these agents are often responsible. ICE agents may be asked to perform such tasks as apprehending and deporting illegal immigrants or locating and extraditing criminal immigrants. ICE agents are also frequently involved in inspecting documents and other cargo at various customs checkpoints.

Additionally, ICE agents may work at border patrol to examine the credentials and documentation of individuals entering the United States. At these locations, agents are also responsible for performing surveillance on persons of interest for customs or immigration violations and may even act as liaisons for other agencies.

In addition to working with customs and immigration, ICE agents are also frequently involved with other federal agencies. These individuals may work with the FBI, Border Patrol, and other elements within the Department of Homeland Security. It is the sole responsibility of these individuals to minimize the potential threats to U.S. citizens.

Potential Jobs as an ICE Agent

There are several types of positions available for individuals working as ICE agents. Most of the positions available fall within the rank of both agent and officer positions and offer relative flexibility for those trained and qualified to do the job. As an ICE agent, an individual is capable of making the transition into a number of different jobs, including:

  • Deportation Officer (DO)
  • Detention and Deportation Officer (DDO)
  • HIS (Homeland Security Investigations) Special Agent
  • Immigration Enforcement Agent (IEA)
  • Intelligence Officer
  • Management and Program Analyst
  • Mission Support Specialist
  • Auditor
  • Criminal Research Specialist
  • Investigative Assistant
  • Technical Enforcement Officer

Becoming an ICE Agent

As with any other career field, criminal justice requires specific training before an individual can secure a career in the field. The requirements for an ICE agent are particularly stringent and involve a solid commitment to working in the criminal justice field.

To enter the field even at an entry-level, an individual must possess a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as criminal justice degree. Additionally, a master’s degree or valid evidence of at least one year of graduate study is also required. In the event that an applicant is a U.S. veteran or has a significant amount of experience in law enforcement or the military, the educational requirement may be waived.

Additionally, ICE agents must be United States citizens between the ages of 21 and 37. Again, an exception may be made on the maximum age limit for individuals who are U.S. veterans or who have served in certain federal law enforcement positions. ICE agent candidates may not possess a felony conviction or misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence or their applications will automatically be denied.

As a criminal justice professional, an ICE agent must hold a valid driver’s license and carry a gun. In addition to passing all of the other requirements, an ICE agent candidate must also pass a background check, a written examination, and physical agility training. Candidates must complete training at the two required academies prior to successful installment as an agent.

ICE Agent Training

Before beginning in the field, ICE agents are required to complete two training courses. The two courses include a five-week Spanish language training program and the Basic Law Enforcement Training Program. The Spanish language program is designed to give agents a basic understanding of the Spanish language to better facilitate their work in border patrol and other areas. The Basic Law Enforcement Training Program involves training in a variety of components, including physical fitness, first aid, firearms, and driving. Throughout these training programs, agents must pass a total of seven written examinations as well as the Physical Abilities Assessment (PAA).

Additional Skills Required

ICE agents must demonstrate possession of a number of additional skills to be successfully installed as active agents. Candidates are generally considered highly qualified if they have prior law enforcement experience, have previous U.S. military experience or are currently serving, or have previously held a position of leadership in academia or another public or professional setting. Likewise, individuals with skilled language skills in a second language are also considered highly qualified. While an individual does not have to possess one or many of these skills or experience, demonstration of these qualifications leads to a fast-tracked approval for the individual.

Career Opportunities

Individuals who are trained as ICE agents may find career opportunities with a number of different federal government organizations. Some of the most common employment opportunities for ICE agents include jobs offered through The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Control, U.S. Secret Service, and the Federal Protective Service. ICE agents may also find employment with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Job Outlook

While specific information regarding salary and other aspects of the occupation as an ICE agent is protected, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does provide data for the similar occupation of a criminal investigator. The average salary of a criminal investigator is $79,030, and the job is expected to grow at a rate as fast as average.

A career as an ICE agent is relatively stressful, but it can be rewarding for an individual who is interested in law enforcement and political affairs. The appropriate training is crucial and can open up a variety of different opportunities for an individual interested in Immigration and Customs Enforcement.