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 via 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 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 they submit an application.​

Due to the suitability and assessment requirements, the recruitment process can take up to six months from time of application to a merit pool being finalised and an offer of engagement made.

Stage 1 - Online application​

Candidates must apply for these roles through the online application set up by our recruitment provider – Manpower. They must complete all required fields and submit an application for it to be considered. Candidates will receive an email when they submit their application to confirm it has been received. They will also receive profile information so that they can log into their applicant account to make changes and track progress. It is essential that candidates read this and all other emails that they receive carefully as they will provide important next step information. If candidates do not receive the email, they will need to check the Spam/Junk folder of their email account.

Candidates should ensure they have their personal details handy when applying, such as:

  • personal particulars
  • current employment details 
  • work experience
  • your resume.

Candidates are able to log in to their account and make changes to their application before advertising closes. Once closed, candidates can only make changes to their profile information (for example, contact details).

Stage 2 - Cognitive ability testing

​The 'Saville' cognitive ability test will be administered during the recruitment process. This involves testing of numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning, thus providing a balanced measure of general cognitive ability. It is an established predictor of future job performance and job-related learning abilities.​

Stage 3 - Video interviews 

The video interview requires candidates to respond to a series of questions being recorded by a computer programme. These questions will focus on skills and capabilities, as well as motivations for joining the ABF. We recommend candidates review the Integrated Leadership System (ILS) and refer to the APS 2/3 work level standard. A detailed description of the capabilities and the behavioural indicators is available for viewing or download at the Australian Public Service Commission website.

Stage ​​​4 - Medical and fitness assessment

​​​Medical assessment

A medical assessment is conducted to assess suitability to perform specific duties and to ensure that candidates do not have any pre-existing medical conditions which could affect their ability to perform their role.

The medical component consists of three sections; medical history questionnaire, nurse screening and medical assessment conducted by an occupationally trained doctor.

After the medical assessment has been completed and the pathology results reviewed, candidates will be advised by the health provider if they are required to attend the fitness assessment.

The medical assessment will also indicate if candidates are medically suitable to undertake the Functional Fitness Assessment.

Fitness assessment

The Functional Fitness Assessment is the minimum fitness standard applied to Border Force Officer Recruit Trainees. The Functional Fitness Assessment protocols will test flexibility, agility, strength, balance, coordination, power, speed and endurance to determine levels of physical fitness. Candidates must successfully complete all 13 Functional Fitness Assessment protocols:

  1. Warm up
  2. Knee extension
  3. Thomas test
  4. Waiters bow
  5. Core stability test
  6. Lower abdominal strength test
  7. Queens college step test
  8. Multi-directional lunge test
  9. Vertical jump
  10. Hexagonal obstacle test
  11. 20 Repetition squat assessment
  12. Push up test
  13. 10 Repetition functional lift test.

Information about the medical and fitness assessments can be found on the Sonic Health Plus website.

Stage 5 - Assessment Centre

The Assessment Centre process involves three areas of activity: work scenario,​​​ group activity and a panel interview. The process will take approximately three hours.

The interview process is similar to any professional job interview, so we recommend candidates approach it like one and prepare to:

  • ​Present yourself well and dress appropriately.
  • Speak clearly and fluently.
  • Know your resume and be able to expand on it if asked.
  • Know the job you’re applying for, read the job description and research the website.
  • Show interest and enthusiasm, we want to know you want to work in the ABF.
  • Speak up and not be afraid to ask for clarification if unsure of anything.​

Stage 6 – Psychometric testing

Psychometric testing involves completion of two separate psychological tests over a 2-3 hour period. This testing is followed by a feedback session / clinical interview with a qualified psychologist. The tests, feedback session and clinical interview will form the basis of an assessment by the qualified psychologist as to whether the candidate is suitable for the traineeship (noting these roles require officers to carry a firearm).

Stage 7 – Referee reports

The purpose of referee reports is to seek information about employment history, qualifications, experience and/or assessment of role ​​​suitability. They provide a selection panel with the opportunity to seek clarification on matters discussed during a candidate’s assessment.​

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 via telephone prior to issuing a formal letter of offer. Please 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 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.

Before a candidate can be offered a position, they must first undergo a rigorous pre-employment character and integrity suitability screening process.

To work with us, you must be able to:

  • obtain and maintain the required Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) clearance
  • undertake an Employment Suitability Clearance (ESC).

If a candidate does not already hold a valid security clearance, we will send relevant security packs that must be completed and returned before work can commence. We will assess if there will be any risk associated with granting access to classified information. That assessment will be based, among other things, on advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Candidates should be aware that both the security processes can be intrusive in nature and include (but is not limited to) detailed background, character, employment, police and financial checks.


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 may 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.