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Criminal Justice Career Option - Becoming an ATF Agent

Posted on by Abe Brown

Criminal Justice Career Option - Becoming an ATF Agent


Within the realm of the criminal justice system, there are literally hundreds of jobs to those holding a criminal justice degree. However, if you're searching for a unique career with its own set of requirements and challenges, then a career as an ATF Special Agent may be your ideal choice. ATF Special Agents, which stand for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is a specialized branch of the federal government. These highly trained special agents feature some of the most complex and dynamic responsibilities out of any federal agency. Standard job functions include conducting surveillance, obtaining and executing search warrants, collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and making arrests. While this is an advanced-level position, it all starts with a criminal justice degree.

Criminal Justice Career Option - Becoming an ATF Agent

Requirements to Work as an ATF Special Agent


While the exact requirements to work as an ATF Special Agent are widespread, the following is a basic breakdown of eligibility requirements. Criminal Justice Schools Today states, "If you're interested in pursuing this career field, contact the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for current career requirements."

  • Level of Education - As a general rule of thumb, aspiring ATF Special Agents must graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, Criminology or another criminal justice system-related field. However, if you hold at least three years working in a related field, you may qualify for this position even without a bachelor's degree. Related work experience includes: working as a law enforcement officer, criminal investigator or a private investigator.
  • Licensure Requirements - In order to become an ATF Special Agent, you must hold a valid government-issued driver's license and pass a myriad of ATF agent examinations. Contact the ATF Bureau for a complete list of theoretical and ability examinations.
  • Primary Skills - The following skills are necessary to gain work as an ATF Special Agent: peak physical condition, above-average investigative techniques and skills, above-average reasoning skills and sound judgment.
  • Additional Requirements - Of course, aspiring ATF Special Agents must be a U.S. Citizen between the ages of 21 and 37. You must also be able to pass a polygraph and drug test as well as pass a thorough background investigation. Due to the physical demands of this career, aspiring ATF Special Agents must hold a relatively low body weight and be able to perform at least 40 sit-ups within a 60 seconds and 33 pushups within the same time frame. It's important to note these physical requirements vary based upon age.

For more on the requirements to work as an ATF Special Agent, click here.