How to Become a Deportation Officer in the US

If you move to a foreign country illegally, you will definitely come across deportation officers. In the US, these are the professionals tasked with enhancing national security, by ensuring illegal immigrants and other offenders are safely sent back to their own countries. This career is ideal for individuals who are physically fit and have a good understanding of border protection and immigration laws.

What Do Deportation Officers Do?

The duties of deportation officers include:

  • Conducting investigations to identify and locate illegal aliens – This role involves collaborating with other law enforcement officers
  • Compiling and presenting information against prospective deportees in courts of law and other exclusion proceedings
  • Overseeing the actual deportation of deportees – This involves coordinating travel plans with airlines and escorting deportees to their countries
  • Preparing investigative reports and presenting them to senior immigration officers
  • Staying abreast of changes in immigration laws and policies.

Work Environment

Long and irregular hours, including weekends and night shifts defines the work schedule of deportation officers. If you want an office-based job, this one will disappoint you. Deportation officers spend most of their time on the road tracking potential deportees or conducting investigations.

At times, the work can be physically demanding. Deportation officers are expected to physically subdue people who may resist arrest. So begin building up those muscles!


Deportation officers are paid according to the General Schedule Federal Pay Scale. Newly hired officers begin at GS-5 and face the prospect of rising to GS-9 as they gain more experience and advanced qualifications:

Level of Seniority

Pay Scale (Annually)









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Entry Requirements

While there are no specific requirements for getting started as a deportation officer, you need a post-secondary qualification to qualify for employment. As such, the best way to package yourself as the ideal candidate for the job is to earn a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields:

  • Criminal justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Public administration

Being a federal job, you will also need to

  • Be an American citizen
  • Have a clean drug and criminal background
  • Have security clearance.

Experience is also a key employment requirement. It is advisable to look for a job in a relevant field and work for some time before thinking of becoming a deportation officer. For example, if you go for a degree in law enforcement, you can first become a police officer.

A valid driving license is also a necessity.

Important Skills and Abilities

To be an effective immigration officer you need:

  • A good level of physical fitness
  • Good analytical skills
  • Good speaking and writing skills
  • A detailed understanding of immigration laws and procedures
  • Good analytical and investigative skills
  • The ability to react quickly to situations
  • Good decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • A person of integrity.

Career Development

After finding employment, you will undergo a mandatory training program to enhance your knowledge of:

  • Immigration law enforcement
  • Detention and removal operations
  • Border patrol operations

As an employed deportation officer, how do you rise through the ranks and secure the top position and possibly move to other lucrative fields? For starters, patience is crucial. It takes a significant amount of experience to move a step ahead. However, with advanced academic qualifications, you can fast track you progression. Examples of credentials you can pursue include:

  • A certificate in immigration law
  • A master’ degree in criminal justice or immigration management

Job Opportunities

Once qualified, the only place to look for work is the Homeland Department of Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. This department will provide opportunities in:

  • Foreign embassies
  • Boarder points
  • Airports and other ports of entry

With experience and higher qualifications, you will not only rise through the salary grades, but also enhance your chances of being hired as an immigration manager. You can also become self-employed by setting up your own immigration consulting firm.

Because you can only work for the ICE, don’t expect to be hired as a deportation officer as soon as you obtain all the qualifications. It may even take several years before you realize your goal. Patience and the desire to protect America’s security interests should keep you focused on landing this job. Good luck!




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