Criminal Investigator (Special Agent)

Multiple Locations
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Closing date

$46,495 – $76,154 per year

Pay scale & grade
GS 5 – 9

The career of an ATF Special Agent (SA) is unique. One of the most challenging in Federal law enforcement. ATF has field offices throughout the United States. Highly trained SA are responsible for investigating violations of Federal law relating to firearms, explosives, arson, and alcohol and tobacco diversion. These investigations involve surveillance, interviewing suspects and witnesses, making arrests, obtaining and executing search warrants, and searching for physical evidence.


The profession of a special agent is exciting and rewarding. Special agents must be tough – both physically and mentally. They must also be able to handle rigorous training, personal risks, irregular hours, and extensive travel. Special Agents are subject to reassignment to any ATF office in the United States, to include any U.S. territory or ATF overseas assignment.

Major duties of this position include:

  • Investigating criminal violations of Federal laws within the enforcement jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Conducting investigations of violations relating to explosives, firearms, arson, and alcohol and tobacco diversion.
  • Preparing concise criminal investigative case reports.
  • Testifying for the Federal Government in court or before grand juries.
  • Gathering and analyzing evidence through investigative leads, seizures, arrests, execution of search warrants, and a variety of other means.

Responsibilities will increase and assignments will become more complex as your training and experience progress.

Conditions of Employment

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Males born after 12-31-59 must be registered or exempt from Selective Service
  • Law Enforcement Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and not older than 37 at the time of appointment. Candidates must be appointed before reaching their 37th birthday unless they are a preference eligible veteran OR presently serving or have previously served in a Federal civilian law enforcement retirement-covered position (after subtracting the years/months of prior Federal service worked in a primary law enforcement position, applicants must be less than 37 years of age). Veterans must submit a Member 4 copy of their DD-214 or statement of service and VA Letter if applicable with your application as qualifying proof of Veterans Preference for employment (
  • Possess a current and valid drivers license
  • Pass the ATF Special Agent Examination
  • Pass the Pre-employment Physical Task Test (PTT).
  • Pass a drug test and submit to random drug testing. Be in compliance with ATF’s drug policy for special agent applicants.
  • Pass and meet medical exam requirements.
  • Sign a mobility statement and agree to be relocated at any time to any office in the United States, to include U.S. territories. All candidates will be required to perform a minimum of 3-5 years at their initial duty station.
  • Must successfully pass a polygraph examination.
  • Successfully complete a background investigation for a Top Secret security clearance. A periodic reinvestigation every 5 years will also be conducted.
  • Must successfully complete Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) and ATF Special Agent Basic Training (SABT)
  • Pass a firearms proficiency test and carry a firearm and ammunition
  • Residency Requirement: DOJ has a residency requirement that for 3 out of the last 5 years you have resided in the United States, worked for the United States in a foreign country in a Federal or U.S. military capacity for 3 out of the last 5 years, and/or been a dependent of a Federal or U.S. military employee in a foreign country for 3 out of the last 5 years.