Working at customs was your childhood dream or an adult choice — all you need is to try! Age is not essential here. Nor your gender. How things are going at our customs, today we are talking with Ana Toderas, director of the Training Center under the Customs Service of Moldova.
Where to study?
There are no faculties on customs affairs at Moldovan universities. But we have a Center for Personnel Training based in Chisinau under the Customs Service of Moldova. How to get there? Only after passing the competition and getting a job at customs.
Higher education in economics or law shall give you more chances to succeed. Still, Customs Service sometimes hires IT specialists, chemists, physicists, communication and international relations specialists, or even psychologists.
We can train 100-120 specialists per year. It all depends on the requests of our customs system. There are years when we need very few people and have just 50 graduates. When they enter the Center, they know at once where they will work. And what specialization they need.
Congratulations! You are an intern
The study will last for six months. You will study for one month at the Center and during the other five months, you will follow the internship. The Center has its hotel. You can live there while classes are going on. During the whole period of studies, interns receive full salaries.
First, you will learn the basics: from professional ethics and national legislation to filling out the documents. Classes are organized practically like in school. You study every day, from morning till evening. During the first month, you shall have to complete about 40 training modules.
Students are taught by actual customs officers who can explain many things from their daily routine. It helps to master the material better.
One month after completing the study, interns take a final test. Then they receive certificates and follow the internship. Every student has his/her mentor. Beginners led by trainers follow an individual professional development program. Students practice for some time in different departments. They study longer in their future place of work. It takes about three months to put the person in the way of things.
After six months of study and internship, you will have to pass the final exam. The Performance Evaluation Commission takes it. If you fail, there will be no second chance.
What will you do after graduation?
Working at customs posts seems simple and easy. There are lists of goods, objects, and substances prohibited for import and export. All you need is to learn them and check documents and luggage. Still, things are more complicated.
There exist dual-use items. These are seemingly harmless objects which, when checked, may turn out to be filled with prohibited or explosive substances. Common objects can be used for making weapons.
For suspecting an explosive device in an ordinary thermal cup, a customs officer must undergo special training. Even a baggage scanner cannot always show whether a passenger has a phone or a bomb microchip in his bag.
Canine teams also help to fight against the smuggling of drugs and illicit goods. They undergo training at the Canine Training Center under the Customs Service of Moldova as well.
The Customs Training Center closely cooperates with the US Embassy that provided training kits of smuggling simulators to Moldovan Customs under EXBS and NSDD programs.
During customs investigation, it is essential to notice on time a suspicious item. If it is the case, a special unit helps to check and neutralize it. However, all customs officers should always be observant and careful.
Besides ordinary customs posts, Moldova has mobile units. 50 specially trained employees serve there. Divided into groups, they are responsible for definite regions.
Mobile units lead investigations across the country. They check markets, retail outlets, and warehouses for contraband and counterfeit goods.
Buying replicas of almost any well-known brand in our markets was simple until now. Today the brands apply for protection of their intellectual rights, and customs officers are those who do this job in our country.
We have a Counterfeit Museum at our Center. There we have collected replicas of famous brands. At the same time, these replicas help us to show our students the difference between the original and the fake. Our efforts brought results. The volume of counterfeit goods in our market has significantly decreased over the last years.
You will learn how to shoot and self-defend
In addition to the customs theory and practice, you should learn how to handle weapons and shoot accurately. Guys from mobile units undergo basic self-defense training. Good physical form is a must for fieldwork. Sometimes it happens that besides ordinary document checks, you have to carry out arrests.
All customs officers have a gun license. They practice on a shooting range with a trainer and twice a year pass the shooting standard.
Statistics show that sometimes girls show higher results in the shooting than men. And some of them are holding weapons for the first time in their life! Many students enjoy these activities. It is a real adrenaline rush.
Many women choose to work at the customs service
One-third of the Moldovan customs employees are women despite a rather tight schedule and hard-working conditions. Sometimes customs posts are located far from the city, in the open air, and you need to stay there on duty for days.
But things are changing and our priorities as well. Women became more active. They come to serve at customs attracted by discipline, clear rules, opportunity to develop and achieve goals. They are not afraid of difficulties.
Women hold half of the leading positions in the central office of the Moldovan Customs Service. To occupy such a post, you need to pass a rough personnel selection process
Some women made their choice immediately, and some of them completely changed their profession. Ana Toderas was a teacher-psychologist. Now she not only heads the Training Center but teaches the disciplines about which she knew nothing ten years ago.
When the Customs Service was looking for a person with a psychology teacher diploma, I submitted documents and passed by the competition. It was difficult at first. I had to study legal documents, economics … Something quite far from what I was doing before. But I wanted to prove, first of all to myself, that I can. Working in customs is a non-stop challenge. Here, you always have to learn something new.
You need to know that you’ll have to study for a long time. Customs officers must prove their qualifications annually. As a rule, it includes 40 hours of one of the chosen disciplines. And the final test.
Text: Axinia Galkina
Translation and adaptation: Elena Cernicova
Photo: Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova
Moldovan online edition Wind.md expresses its gratitude to the employees of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova for their help in preparing this material
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