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Agriculture Specialist Application Process

Being an Agriculture Specialist can be both mentally and physically challenging. As a result, the application process to become an Agriculture Specialist is intentionally rigorous to ensure those selected can carryout the duties that are expected of them. Click the subjects below to learn more.

Expand Basic Eligibility

In order to be eligible for employment with the CBP, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen.
  • Have a valid driver's license.
  • Have resided in the U.S. for at least 3 of the last 5 years (military exception).
  • Be willing to travel; you will be required to travel frequently. This job may require extended domestic and foreign Temporary Duty (TDY) assignments.
  • Pass the application process (see details below).

Common Disqualifiers

You may be rated unsuitable for the CBP Officer position if your background includes:

Expand Special Requirements for Agriculture Specialists

You must have successfully completed a full four-year course of study from an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree that includes a major field of study in biological sciences, including but not limited to:

  • Agriculture
  • Agronomy
  • Animal Science 
  • Biology 
  • Botany
  • Chemistry Or Related Disciplines
  • Crop Science
  • Ecology
  • Entomology
  • Environmental Resource Management
  • Horticulture
  • Microbiology
  • Mycology
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Nematology
  • Pest Management
  • Plant Pathology
  • Plant Science
  • Soil Science
  • Weed Science

If you have not completed the above described education, you must have completed at least 24 semester hours in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry or a related discipline at an accredited college or university plus have appropriate work experience.

Note that additional qualifications may be required for specific grade levels. Review the vacancy announcement on USAJOBS for important information about who may apply, job qualifications, duties, and position requirements.

7 steps in the process to employment. Note that several steps occur at the same time or may occur in a different order

Expand 1. Apply

Apply to be an Agriculture Specialist on USAJOBS
To apply, navigate to the position you are interested in on USAJOBS by searching the position title or by finding the link on the Apply Now page. To begin your online application, you need to create a USA Jobs account and self certify that you are qualified. You will submit your resume, transcripts, and other documents to verify your age and if you are a veteran.

Expand 2. Qualifications Review

Submit a properly formatted resume on USAJOBS to ensure your qualifications are accurate
Human Resources Specialists will review your resume and other required documents to make sure you meet the minimum qualifications and determine what grade you qualify for. For your application to be reviewed quickly and accurately, it is recommended that you submit a resume that appropriately documents your qualifications, detailed description of your duties (including tasks performed), the dates you performed those duties (MM/DD/YYYY - MM/DD/YYYY) and hours worked per week. If your resume and/or transcripts do not clearly document how you are qualified, you may be rated ineligible. We highly recommend you review our qualification aid in preparing your Federal resume: (CBP Agriculture Specialist Qualification Aid)

Expand 3. Medical Exam

General Medical Requirements:
Individuals in this position must be medically and physically capable of performing the essential job functions and duties of the position safely and efficiently without aggravating existing health problems or endangering the health and safety of the individual, others, or national security.

After tentative selection, candidates must undergo a pre-employment medical examination and be found medically qualified to perform the position's full range of duties safely and efficiently. Any disease or condition that may potentially interfere with the safe and efficient performance of the job's duties or training may result in medical disqualification. No condition is automatically disqualifying; each determination is made on a case-by-case basis. The medical determination may involve recommendations for additional information and/or testing. If medical information is recommended beyond that provided by the initial medical examination, it is provided at the expense of the candidate.

Minimum Vision Requirements

  • Distant Visual Acuity: Must be at least 20/30 or better in the best eye with or without correction.
  • Individuals who have undergone refractive eye surgeries/procedures (e.g., photorefractive laser surgery, keratoplast, LASIK) may be qualified provided they have no post-operative adverse complications and they meet the vision requirements. Minimum recovery period is 90 days.
  • Near Vision: Must be 20/30 or better Snellen with or without corrective lenses.
  • Color Vision: Must be able to distinguish colors (i.e., red, green, yellow, blue, orange, purple, pink, brown, black, white, gray). Use of an X-chrome lens is not acceptable.
  • Visual Fields: A minimum of 140 degrees in the horizontal meridian
Minimum Hearing Requirements (with or without the use of hearing aids)
  • Hearing level in each ear must not exceed 40 decibel (dB) for the average of the following frequencies 500, 1000, 2000, and 3000 Hertz (Hz).
  • The difference in hearing level between the better ear thresholds and worse ear thresholds may not exceed 15 dB for the average of 500, 1000, 2000, 3000 Hz.
  • The difference in hearing level between the better ear and worse ear may not exceed 30 dB at 4000 or 6000 Hz.


Expand 4. Background Investigation

Agriculture Specialist applicants undergo a thorough background investigation
All selected applicants must undergo and successfully pass a background investigation as a condition of placement into a CBP position. The SF-86 or SF-85 (e-QIP) must be completed to initiate the background investigation. The background investigation process consists of three key elements: the preliminary vetting checks, the investigation (the field portion and OPM’s National Agency Checks) and the final adjudication. The results produced from the vetting checks and the investigation are analyzed for the purpose of making a final adjudicative determination. Learn more about the background investigation.

Expand 5. Structured Interview (SI)

You will complete a Structured Interview to ensure you have the competencies that are critical for successful job performance. Among these are the competencies of judgement/decision-making, emotional maturity, interpersonal skills, and cooperativeness/sensitivity to the needs of others. View Current Applicant Resources for Frequently Asked Questions regarding the SI.

Expand 6. Drug Test

Agriculture Specialists have direct responsibility and involvement with the interdiction of illegal narcotics, and are routinely exposed to illegal substances. During the application process you will be required to submit to a random drug test. Applicants that test positively are disqualified. View Current Applicant Resources for frequently asked questions regarding the drug test.

Expand 7. Polygraph Exam

You may or may not be required to take a standardized polygraph exam as part of your Agriculture Specialist application. The polygraph exam, if you are required to take it, is a 4-6 hour interview that requires you to respond to a series of questions typically relating to national security issues and answers you provide on your background investigations forms. The polygraph measures your physiological response when answering questions and results are subject to a quality control review for accuracy. Learn more about the polygraph exam.

Last modified: 
March 16, 2021