Customs officer

detection officer
Security, uniformed and protective services

Career outlook for customs officer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would check that people arriving at UK borders are not bringing in or taking out banned goods. You’d stop smuggling and illegal trade.

You’d also explain to people if they need to pay a charge to take certain items in or out of the country. You’d collect these customs duties and taxes so the rules are being applied fairly to everyone.

You would work in airports and seaports for UK Border Force.

You would:

  • Search luggage, vehicles and travellers
  • Check customs documents
  • Question people who have been found with illegal items or more goods than they are allowed
  • Arrest and charge people
  • Prepare reports and witness statements

You might take on specialist roles such as dog handling or undercover and surveillance work.

When necessary, you would go to court as a witness and would work closely with other agencies, like the police and the Home Office.

Working conditions


As a full-time customs officer you would work 36 hours a week over five days. In a border protection role you would work shifts to cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Job sharing or part-time work may be available.


You would be based at airports and seaports.


You would also travel to court when necessary.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Observation
  • Questioning
  • Attention to detail
  • Taking initiative
  • Making decisions

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


For entry at officer level you need two to three Highers (SCQF level 6). Or a degree in any subject (SCQF level 9/10) to enter the graduate trainee scheme.

Alternatively you can enter an administrative role with qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 and work toward promotion. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required)
  • Maths (required)
  • Administration
  • ICT subjects
  • Business subjects

You will also need

You need to meet the Civil Service nationality requirement. All jobs are open to British nationals and many are also open to Commonwealth citizens or European Union nationals.

See the Civil Service website for more information. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate understanding of the security industry, the ability to pay attention to detail and being tactful such as Skills for Work Uniformed and Emergency Services (SCQF level 4).