ATF Qualifications & Education Requirements

Education & Experience

An ATF Special Agent may enter at the GL-5, GL-7 or GL-9 pay grade, each with their own set of education and experience prerequisites. To serve at the GL-5 pay grade applicants should possess at least one of the following:

  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree from a 4 year college; or
  • At least 3 years of experience in management with at least one year of experience equivalent to GL-4; or
  • Combination of education and experience

To join the ATF at the GL-7 level, candidates should possess at least one of the following:

  • One year of post-graduate study in Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice or related field of study; or
  • Superior Academic Achievement during baccalaureate education which is defined as
    • GPA of 2.95 or higher for all undergraduate courses or the final 2 years; or
    • GPA of 3.45 or higher in the major concentration or in the major courses of the final two years; or
    • Ranked in the top one third of graduating class; or
    • Membership in a national honor society; or
  • At least one year of experience equivalent to GL-5 duties which include:
    • Basic investigative techniques
    • Gathering and analyzing evidence
    • Execution of search and arrest warrants
    • Interviewing witnesses and suspects
    • Testifying in court
    • Preparing case reports; or
  • Combination of education and experience

The ATF also accepts highly qualified candidates at the GL-9 level if they possess one or more of the following criteria:

  • Possession of a Master’s degree or 2 years of post-graduate education in Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice or related field of study; or
  • Possession of a J.D. or L.L.B. degree; or
  • At least one year of work experience at the GL-7 level which includes
    • Analyzing raw evidence and writing reports
    • Investigating cases and claims of criminal activity
    • Conducting surveillance
    • Going undercover
    • Conducting financial or technology investigations; or
  • A combination of education and experience

Possessing any or all of these prerequisites is not a guarantee or admission as a Special Agent at a predetermined pay grade. The competition for these positions is highly competitive and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has the discretion to assign a pay grade of its own choosing.

Disqualifiers

As one of the most competitive agencies in the federal government, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives accepts only the most highly qualified candidates. In order to guarantee consideration as a candidates should not possess any of the following in their personal or professional profiles:

  • Not a U.S. citizen
  • Not registered with the Selective Service System
  • Younger than 21 or older than 37 (Some veterans may be older than 37)
  • Lack of a valid driver’s license
  • Inability to pass the ATF Special Agent Examination
  • Inability to pass the ATF Special Agent Applicant Assessment Test
  • Failure to successfully complete the Pre-employment Physical Task Test
  • Failure to successfully complete the Panel Interview
  • Failure of the ATF Drug Policy
  • Failure to pass the medical examination
  • Failure to pass a polygraph examination
  • Inability to pass a comprehensive background investigation
  • Felony or misdemeanor convictions of domestic violence which prevent use of firearms
  • Inability to complete Special Agent Basic Training (SABT) and Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP)

Sources
ATF

ATF Criminal Investigator Description ATF Selection & Training