Australian Border Force

Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship (entry level)

Applications for the 2016-17 Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship have closed.

Information about the next Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship recruitment campaign will be provided in due course.


Position summary

Once trained and qualified, Border Force Officers will be required to undertake a broad range of functions across multiple domains. Examples of working domains include airports, sea ports (wharves), immigration detention facilities, mail centres, maritime and aviation cargo environments, small and large vessels and warehouses. 

Border Force Officers undertake shift work by established rosters. They are expected to work during holiday periods when the movement of people and goods across the Australian border is at its peak.

The types of functions a Border Force Officer might perform include:

  • enforcing legislation and exercising regulatory powers
  • processing, risk assessing, inspecting and examining  travellers, baggage and cargo 
  • undertake activities in Immigration Detention Facilities
  • engaging with clients, travellers, partner agencies and the general public
  • boarding and searching aircraft and vessels
  • using mobile and static technology
  • undertake patrols and surveillance 
  • coordinating responses to border threats
  • analysing information and writing reports
  • ​maintaining appropriate recordkeeping practices.

​The physical component of these functions can be:

  • stationary: for example, working at a computer, processing passengers and Illegal Maritime Arrivals or monitoring CCTV
  • moving: for example, examining baggage or cargo, patrols, boarding vessels, working in Immigration Detention Facilities (IDFs).

Typical conditions an officer could experience, and activities they might be required to undertake, include:

  • performing multiple roles in a dynamic team environment of changing circumstances 
  • working collaboratively in a law enforcement and border protection environment
  • processing high volumes of passengers at air and sea ports
  • maintaining constant awareness of relevant obligations and risks involved in:
    • contact with travellers/clients/detainees
    • use of mobile and static detection technology including x-ray
    • handling or testing of hazardous materials and chemicals
  • shift work
  • noise hazards
  • lifting baggage/boxes 
  • unpacking and packing cargo
  • dealing with difficult clients and/or detainees from a range of backgrounds
  • using personal protection and defence equipment in an Operational Safety context, including being armed where operational requirements demand
  • embarking and disembarking vessels at berths and at sea
  • using equipment and tools for examination purposes, example would be drills
  • working in challenging environmental conditions, for example hot, cold, humid, wet or dry.

Recruitment process

The recruitment process will be notified prior to positions being advertised.

Onboarding / employment offers

If a candidate is found suitable for a position as a Border Force Officer Recruit Trainee, they will be placed in a pool of merit and notified accordingly.

If we are in a position to offer a role we will contact the candidate by telephone prior to issuing a formal letter of offer. Note: not all suitable candidates will be able to be offered a position. We recommend candidates do not give notice to their current employer unless they have been provided a formal letter of offer.

All candidates placed into the merit pool will be required to commence relevant security clearances to be eligible for a placement offer.

Border Force Officer Recruit Trainees are on-boarded as Trainee APS (technical) officers, at a salary of AUD 42,865 (plus 15.4% superannuation).

Security and character requirements

We operate in a position of trust within the Australian community. Our employees are provided with significant powers to support the efficient and effective management of the Australian border.

To maintain the confidence of the Australian Government and the community, it is essential that all employees demonstrate and adhere to the highest standards of integrity and ethical behaviour - both in their official and private capacities.

Therefore, before you can work with us, you must obtain (and maintain for the duration of your employment or association with the Department) both of the following:

  • an Employment Suitability Clearance (ESC) – which assesses your suitability (from an integrity and character perspective) to work with or for us
  • a Commonwealth security clearance – which assesses your suitability to access classified Australian Government resources
    • Baseline level is required at a minimum. A higher level of security clearance could be required, depending on your specific role.

These processes can be intrusive in nature and could include (but is not limited to) detailed background, character, employment, police and financial checks.  An assessment of your suitability to be granted either clearance could be based, among other things, on advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and/or the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

If you do not already hold the required security clearance and/or ESC, we will send you the relevant security packs that must be completed and returned to us before you commence work.

More information about the Employment Suitability Clearance (ESC) is available.


The Border Force Officer Recruit traineeship is a 12 month programme comprising a six month instructional phase and a six month operational phase (on-the-job). Recruits are on probation for the duration of the traineeship.

During this programme recruits are assessed by ABF College instructors, workplace team leaders and supervisors.

Instructional phase

The six month instructional phase commences with one week of induction in the capital city where recruits are engaged, followed by four weeks of training conducted at the ABF College, Sydney International Airport.

Accommodation and flights (economy class) are organised and paid for by the Department (if trainees are engaged in a region other than New South Wales). Accommodation will be an apartment with cooking and laundry facilities and will be close to the city, convenient to shops and public transport. Trainees will share with someone of the same gender. 

Recruits might be required to undertake Operational Safety Training (OST) during the instructional phase. OST is conducted over four weeks in one of five training locations. If undertaken, travel and accommodation for this training component is also paid for by the Department (if the training location differs from the region in which the trainee is engaged).

The remainder of the six month instructional phase will generally be in the region the trainee is recruited for.

The instructional phase is predominantly classroom-based and involves a number of assessable modules.

Operational phase

The 'on-the-job' phase involves rotations through various work locations / business areas in their region which might include shift work and weekend work. Recruits might be deployed to a regional location during this training phase from 4-6 weeks at any one time.

The operational training phase involves assessable components and requires recruits to complete a workbook to track their development.

Upon successful completion of the 12 month traineeship, probation will be lifted.

​The Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship is demanding and completion of all modules is essential to ensure that recruits are able to graduate as a Border Force Officer. It should be noted that large periods of leave during training are generally not supported as opportunities to 'catch up' are limited and absences might impact successful completion of the course.