Australian Border Force

Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship (entry level)

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

Further information about the 2017-18 Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship will be posted shortly. Applicants are encouraged to monitor this page for updates about the campaign, including advertising dates.

We also recommend following the Australian Border Force on social media to stay connected and to access regular campaign updates and information.

Social media ABF

Affirmative Measures campaign for Indigenous candidates

As part of the 2017-18 Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship campaign we will be advertising a considerable number of positions for candidates who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Indigenous Australians with an interest in joining the Australian Border Force and contributing to border protection efforts are encouraged to apply via a specific 'Affirmative Measures' advertisement. Details on how to apply will be provided shortly.

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 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 to join the ABF as a Border Force Officer Recruit Trainee is comprehensive and involves a number of stages. We recommend that applicants review each stage in detail, before submitting an application.​ Information on each stage of the recruitment process will be provided in the near future.

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 applicable to the region they have been found suitable in and notified accordingly.

All candidates placed into the pool of merit will be required to commence relevant security clearances to be eligible for a placement offer. Further information on security and character requirements is provided below.

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.

Border Force Officer Recruit Trainees are on-boarded as APS 2 officers, at a salary of AUD47,424 (plus 15.4% superannuation). Successfully completing the 12 month traineeship will see Border Force Recruits advance to an APS 3 Border Force Officer General Duties at a salary of AUD 53,937 (plus 15.4% superannuation) and in line with the Department's current Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014 (1.9MB PDF).

 ​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 any 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.

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 BFORT instructional training phase consists of Department of Immigration and Border Protection Induction undertaken in the capital city where recruits are engaged, followed by four weeks of core capability units, at the ABF College, Sydney International Airport. These units include legislation, powers, information and intelligence gathering and operational frame of mind modules. 

During the period at the ABF College in Sydney, accommodation and flights (economy class) are organised and paid for by the Department (if recruits are engaged in a region other than New South Wales). Accommodation is an apartment with cooking and laundry facilities and is close to the city and convenient to shops and public transport. Recruits will share with someone of the same gender.

The remainder of the classroom phase will generally be in the region the candidate is recruited for. This is comprised of role specific capability units, including passenger processing, baggage and traveller search and detection and seizure processes. Depending on regional placement, some trainee classes will undergo the complete operational safety training package (Awareness, Foundational Tactics, and Skills and Tactics), whereas others may only be required to complete the first two stages.

The instructional phase is predominantly classroom-based training and involves a number of assessable modules. The first six months is generally Monday to Friday, working business hours. There may be some circumstances where recruits have to work on the weekends or outside of standard hours.

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. Recruits will attend a formal graduation and be required to 'swear in' (explained in further detail below) as a Border Force Officer. At this point, Recruits will progress to the rank of Border Force Officer – General Duties (APS Level 3).

Sworn officers

As a Border Force Officer there is a requirement to take the oath or affirmation and be sworn in. The term ‘sworn in’ refers to those ABF Officers who publicly take the oath or affirmation, thereby attaining ABF sworn officer status.


Upon completion of the traineeship, Border Force Officers are posted to a region (this is generally within the region originally recruited to) for three years (however there is some flexibility in the posting framework to achieve different outcomes). During the posting, Border Force Officers can also be deployed to different operating environments and roles, on a day-to-day basis or for longer durations depending on the operational need.