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  • CBP Agriculture Specialists

    asfasdfafsaf
    Last edited by ken315; 02-20-2009, 06:17 AM.

  • #2
    I'm a Ag Specialist in Houston IAH and the job and pay is good for the work. Houston and SF have the highest locality pay and Houston has a low cost of living so we've got it pretty good here. SF is known for its high cost of living so if you start at GS-5 you may have to watch your spending until you make Gs-11. Until then OT will help bridge the gap, but don't count on the OT as a stable thing because it varies from port-to-port. Here in Houston our OT is rationed because the CBPO's get the majority of it in primary. For example I came in as GS-7 in 05' and I made just over $12,000 in OT, but the next year I made about half of that and this year I'm only at $3400. Like I said it varies at some ports and management can/will manipulate the budget to get things done. We have 3 rotating ten hour shifts of 0500, 1100 and 1400. We get three off days per week and every four weeks we get three consecutive weekends off where we work 4days and are off 4days. It's pretty sweet! We used to work 6 on 3 off, 6 on 6 off, but our new port director canned that with hopes of eliminating our 10 hour shifts but couldn't because of lack of bodies.
    I've done the seaport, but don't like working in the elements and some of the entrances onto the ships are severe injuries waiting to happen especially in inclement weather. I also didn't like inspecting the crew quarters, galley and freezer without a firearm. I actually hated that part. I did enjoy learning the targeting aspect of it and inspecting the containers for insects. I spent ten weeks there and glad for the experience, but prefer the airport. It’s a matter of preference, the people who are there like it and the ones who are not don't.
    I'm a Animal Science graduate so this is a good fit for me. Goodluck

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    • #3
      Thanks for that info, very informative!
      Last edited by ken315; 02-20-2009, 06:18 AM.

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      • #4
        I never had any problems out the crew members, but when you're invading peoples privacy and taking their food theres a chance they could get upset and physically harm you. The opportunity is there for them. You could be bound, gagged and thrown in the freezer and no one would know for hours.
        Duties at the airport consist of xraying and searching baggage sent to secondary for prohibited ag products, issuing penalties, reviewing cargo manifest, working the exit booths, processing pest interceptions, inspecting and disposing seized products. you also do some of the customs duties too. Theres also a air cargo crew who review manifest for inspection, review permits and inspect flower shipments.
        Seaport duties are inspecting ships crew quarters, galley, freezer, shipping containers for insects and ag products. You also quarantine certain foods in the freezers using seals that cant be removed until the ship has entered international waters. You also review manifests for cargo inspection.
        Transfers are possible but not easy. Traditionally you remain in your first port for a 2yr probationary period, then you submit a request for a swap with someone from the port you want to go to. I've heard of people tranferring sooner by way of favors.
        Like I said I prefer the airport because of the climate controlled environment, safety and dealing with the people happens to be great the majority of the time. I enjoy the experience and theres NEVER a dull moment.

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        • #5
          Does any one know if there is a written test associated with the ag specialist position? Thanks.....

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          • #6
            Hello "change is good", Is it true that there are more duty locations as an ag specialist verses the cbp officer position? What promotion potential does a specialist have beyond the 11 position? Since they don't recieve the training that CBP officers have I would imagine promotions would be quite limited, whats your take.... Thank you

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            • #7
              Im not sure if there is a written exam, there wasnt when I was hired. Im guessing there isnt , but entry requirements change all the time for federal jobs.
              As for advancement opportunities unfortunately I attended a briefing and was told that there really isnt alot of room for advancement beyond gs-12 supervisory position compared to the CBPO's. This is in relation to the number of ag specialist a specific port has. Im not sure of the specific numbers of us nation wide, but at my port Im guessing we represent less than 25% compared to the CBPO's at the airport. Theres maybe 30 ag specialists compared to 150+- CBPO's. We have 4 gs-12 supervisor positions and 1 gs-13 chief position. A few months ago port directors nation wide were told by the commissioners office to talk to ag specialists about crossing over to become a CBPO. To me this act displayed the low level of respect they have for the ag specialist position by mounting a recruiting campaign citing the many opportunities for advancement as compared to the ag specialist position. I was truly disappointed in this act. We had a few specialists crossover, 1 from the airport and 2-3 from the seaport. I think they did it for the money because in our port the CBPO's make 3-4 times more in OT than we do. Like I said in an earlier post the amount of OT made varies by port. I know a specialist in miami who told me they have some specialists cap out at $30000.00. Im disappointed in the allocation of resources towards ag specialist in CBP. Our duty is just as important as the CBPO's duties and should be given the same advancement opportunities within our own mission. Longevity is one of the good things about both positions depending on what duty station you're assigned to because w/exception to the SW landborder ports you're in a controlled environment that is relatively safe with the potential to make a 6 figure salary for many years.

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              • #8
                Thanks for replying. Now, for the people you knew who crossed over, did they have to take the exam for the position of cbpo and did they lose their spot at the port once hired (relocated)?

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                • #9
                  The exam is waived, Im not sure if you lose your place at the port. The one specialist from the airport who defected will go to dallas which is where he wanted to go because he has family there. The people from the seaport Im not sure of, I'll do my best to find out. When the Port Director came to recruit us he stated that question was still being sorted out by upper management, that was in may or june.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by changeisgood View Post
                    Longevity is one of the good things about both positions depending on what duty station you're assigned to because w/exception to the SW landborder ports you're in a controlled environment that is relatively safe with the potential to make a 6 figure salary for many years.
                    I can't speak for you Aggies, but as a northern border CBPO I have almost never worked in a controlled environment.

                    In the last 4 years I've pulled hundreds of firearms out of vehicles, along with dozens of knives and the odd assortment of weapons of opportunity.

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                    • #11
                      Forgot about the northern border. Being here in TX we dont here much about the environment up north, Im sure there is just as much risk searching vehicles, etc. Is there much pedestrian traffic? Whats it like working in the winter months? Do they shutdown traffic during bad winter weather?

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                      • #12
                        Pedestrian traffic? In the 15 or 20 so NB crossings I've worked it's an oddity...something almost never seen. I'm guessing that a larger port like Buffalo or Detroit sees some, and the ferry crossings might see a fair amount.

                        Winter is usually cold and uncomfortable. I freeze a lot. Several times I've been snowed in at a port and have spent the night sleeping on a floor somewhere in a sleeping bag. I've never seen a highway or port officially closed because of the weather, but I've seen plenty of weather bad enough to pull all but the most crazy of travelers off the roadway.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by merlin436 View Post
                          Pedestrian traffic? In the 15 or 20 so NB crossings I've worked it's an oddity...something almost never seen. I'm guessing that a larger port like Buffalo or Detroit sees some, and the ferry crossings might see a fair amount.

                          Winter is usually cold and uncomfortable. I freeze a lot. Several times I've been snowed in at a port and have spent the night sleeping on a floor somewhere in a sleeping bag. I've never seen a highway or port officially closed because of the weather, but I've seen plenty of weather bad enough to pull all but the most crazy of travelers off the roadway.
                          WOW, FREEZING!! Those are some terrible conditions, when we get into the 50's I start complaining its freezing. I been to the border where pedestrians are as much as the vehicle traffic, that why I asked.
                          Here at the airport bad weather days consist of thunderstorms that form in spots in the area because of all the heat and humidity flowing from the gulf. We get some good downpours that last 20-30 minutes that can delay flight arrivals and as soon as the weather passes the planes start landing atop of each other. We get hundreds of passengers jammed in here especially in the afternoon when the european flights arrive with 280-320 passenger + crew. Just picture a herd of cattle in a stockyard, we just keep'em moving. Goodluck up there, winter will be there soon.

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                          • #14
                            Freezing? Try 35-40 below zero with a 35 mile wind blowing your breath way. Nothing(people, equipment, gates, locks, etc.) functions well on those days.

                            Last year I snapped the handle off my truck door during a particularly vicious cold spell. I also had to take the bolt seal cutters to the gate chain twice because the padlock had gotten so cold that the key wasn't going to turn it.

                            On bad weather days traffic slows down to nothing or close to it. I've had many days where I haven't seen a vehicle during my 8 on. Lots of TV watching, book reading and computer surfing goes on during the winter.

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                            • #15
                              Changeisgood... I am waiting for a start date with Houston as an Aggie. I passed everything as stated on CASS and it states referred to scheduling on 9/4/2008 for EOD. How would I know if I am going to go to the airport and can I request the airport? I would like to be at the airport since it's only 15 min away from where I live. Don't want to be stuck at the ship channel, if that is where they might station me. Also, how is the bond between the aggies? I was in the military and my section always bonded well b/c we had to work hard together and put up with the same stuff.

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