ATF Agent — Degree, Career & Average Salary
Agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – or ATF – work under the umbrella of the U.S. Treasury Department. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens, at least 21 years of age, pass physical and written testing, background and drug screening and a four-year college degree. A job as an ATF agent involves investigating violations of laws governing the possession and sale of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives. ATF agents take part in a wide variety of investigations that involve obtaining search warrants, making raids, searching for physical evidence, conducting surveillance, interviewing suspects and witnesses and making arrests. ATF agents work in close contact with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies supplying ongoing assistance in the struggle against violence and crime. ATF agents also assess all evidence at the close of an investigation and organize specific case reports that assist the U.S. attorney in preparing for trial.
Once hired as a new ATF Agent there will be a significant amount of law enforcement training. Trainees spend nine weeks in Glynco, Georgia, where training in surveillance, arrest techniques, firearms training and other skills are provided. New agents then spend thirteen weeks at FLETC where they are trained on explosives, bomb scene investigation and other areas.
New agents are hired on at either the GS-5 or GS-7 level. As a GS-5 a new agent will earn between $28,349 and $36,856 a year and as a GS-7 an agent will earn between $35,116 and $45,648. In most cases, at yearly intervals an ATF agent can be promoted up through GS-13 level. To qualify as a GS-7 based on education a new agent must have 1 full year of graduate-level education.