Customs officer

detection officer

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

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

Hours

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.

Environment

You would be based at airports and seaports.

Travel

You would also travel to court when necessary.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Persuading people
  • Being tactful
  • Working on your own
  • Accuracy
  • Making decisions

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

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

Qualifications

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).