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Grades 5, 7, and 9


The career of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent is unique and one of the most challenging in Federal law enforcement. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ATF has field offices throughout the United States and its territories. Highly trained special agents are responsible for investigating violations of Federal law relating to firearms, explosives, arson and alcohol and tobacco diversion. These investigations involve surveillance, participation in raids, interviewing suspects and witnesses, making arrests, obtaining search warrants, and searching for physical evidence. Chemists and other specialty personnel provide expert assistance in developing cases.

The profession of 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.

Please review the enclosed information regarding salary and benefits,basic requirements and conditions of employment.

Applications for position openings will ONLY be accepted in response to a specific ATF job notice OR vacancy announcement.

For updates on ATF Special Agent recruitment efforts, please visit our website at or contact the ATF Recruitment & Hiring Center at 202-648-9100.

ATF is ranked as one of the Top 15 "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" ( under Federal subcomponent category). ATF is looking for energetic, innovative, solution-oriented professionals to assist the ATF Team in its mission to prevent terrorism, reduce violent crime and protect the public.


  1. Position Title and Grade Levels: Criminal Investigator (Special Agent), GS-1811, grades 5, 7, and 9.
  2. Major Duties:
  3. - Investigates criminal violations of Federal laws within the enforcement jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice.
  4. - Conducts investigations of violations relating to explosives, firearms, arson, and alcohol and tobacco diversion.
  5. - Gathers and analyzes evidence through investigative leads, seizures and arrests, execution of search warrants, and a variety of other means.
  6. - Prepares concise criminal investigative case reports.
  7. - Testifies for the government in court or before grand juries.
  8. Work Schedule:
  9. ATFs business hours are generally 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Due to receipt of Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), special agents usually work an average of 2 additional hours per day. Depending upon the type of assignments, agents frequently work other than normal business hours and more than 2 additional LEAP hours per day. In short, a special agents work schedule and the number of hours worked per day or week will vary according to assignments.
  10. Travel: travel may be considerable, depending upon assignments.


  1. Base Annual Salary Range For Year 2006
  2. $31,075 (Grade 5) to $39,448 (Grade 9)
  3. (Salary range excludes locality pay and the 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay)
  4. Base salary will depend upon grade qualifications. Application materials will be reviewed by the recruitment and hiring center to determine the grade for which an applicant may qualify. All applicants must meet basic qualifications at the grade 5 to be eligible to take the Treasury Enforcement Agent (TEA) examination (see the basic grade qualifications section of this vacancy).
  5. Locality Pay: All ATF duty stations qualify for locality pay. Special agents receive an additional percentage of their base salary, depending upon their locations. The current range of locality pay is 12.52% to 28.68%.
  6. Law Enforcement Availability Pay: Because of the type of work and additional work hours, generally all special agents receive the 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay, which is added to locality pay.
  7. Foreign Language Award Program: The Foreign Language Award Program authorizes cash awards for ATF employees who possess and make substantial use of one or more foreign language(s) in the performance of their official duties. The cash award is based upon proficiency and substantial usage.
  8. Promotion Potential: The full performance level for this position is grade 13. Note: Promotions are based upon performance and must receive supervisory approval.
  9. Benefits:
  10. - Annual leave (vacation time) is earned at the rate of 13-26 days per year, with a maximum accumulation of 240 hours per year.
  11. - Sick leave is earned at the rate of 13 days per year and may be accumulated without limit.
  12. - 10 paid holidays.
  13. - Low cost health insurance with the option to choose from a variety of plans.
  14. - Low cost life insurance.
  15. - Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits. Special agents may retire at 50 with 20 years of service. Age 57 is the mandatory retirement age, with 20 years of service.
  16. - Tax-deferred Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
  17. - Health improvement (physical fitness) program.


  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. If male applicant born after December 31, 1959, be registered with the selective service system, or be exempt from having to do so under selective service law.
  3. Be between the ages of 21 and 37, at the time of appointment, unless you have had previous service in a Federal civilian law enforcement position covered by special civil service retirement provisions, including early or mandatory retirement. Maximum age limitations may not be waived for any applicant, including those entitled to veterans preference.
  4. Possess a current and valid automobile operators license.
  5. Complete ATF special agent applicant questionnaire.
  6. Take and pass the Treasury Enforcement Agent Examination.
  7. Take and pass the ATF special agent applicant assessment test.
  8. Appear for and successfully complete a field panel interview a writing sample will be required.
  9. Take and pass a polygraph examination and successfully complete a background investigation for a top secret clearance.
  10. Be in compliance with ATFs drug policy for special agent applicants.
  11. Take and pass a medical examination by an authorized government physician and meet medical requirements. Applicants must be able to perform physically strenuous duties safely.
  12. - At a minimum, ATF special agents must meet uncorrected distant vision of at least 20/100 in each eye, and corrected distant vision must test 20/20 in one eye and 20/30 in the other. Normal depth perception and peripheral vision are required as is the ability to distinguish shades of color by plate tests.
  13. - Applicants that have undergone Automated Larnellar Keratoplasty (ALK); Laser in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK); Photorefractive Keratecotomy (PRK); and Radial Keratotomy (RK) must provide proof that they have passed the specific protocol. The test must be administered by a board-certified opthalmologist who will document the results of the protocol test and that the test was performed no sooner than the prescribed time after the date of surgery. (3 months or one year, depending on the type of surgery).
  14. - Hearing loss, as measured by an audiometer, must not exceed 30 decibels at 500, 1000, and 2000 HZ levels.
  15. Weight must be in proportion to height.
  16. Take and pass a drug test.


  1. This position requires the incumbent to carry a firearm and ammunition. (Persons who have been convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors, including a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (Title 18, U.S.C. section 922 (g) (9)) are not eligible to possess a firearm or ammunition.)
  2. Applicants will be required to sign a geographic mobility agreement acknowledging that if selected, they may be assigned to any office in the United States and will be subject to relocation at any time.
  3. Payment of relocation expenses to the first appointment with ATF will not be authorized for applicants that are not now ATF employees.
  4. Selected applicants shall be appointed in the excepted service and must satisfactorily complete a three year trial period which includes but is not limited to successful completion of the criminal investigator training program, special agent basic training and qualifying and maintaining firearms proficiency.


  1. Each newly hired ATF special agent is required to achieve, a minimum of 25%, in each of the following Physical Battery Efficiency (PEB) exercises: the 1.5 mile run, the bench press and the agility run. Failure to achieve 25% or higher in any of these categories during the first week of the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) AND towards the conclusion of Special Agent Basic Training (SABT) will result in the special agent being dismissed from training. ATF has a no recycle policy for failures in any of the practical exercises, physical training or academic requirements. All exercises and examinations provide opportunities for remediation. To determine these standards please refer to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center PEB webpage at web.htm .
  2. The ATF Academy strongly encourages all applicants and new special agent hires to be in top physical condition prior to arriving at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Arriving in excellent physical condition will allow you to enjoy all aspects of training and prepare you for your future as an ATF special agent.


  1. All applicants must take and pass the ATF Treasury Enforcement Agent (TEA) examination and the ATF special agent applicant assessment to be eligible for further consideration for agent positions
  2. Applicants must meet basic qualifications (at least) at the grade 5 to be eligible to take the TEA. (See the basic qualifications section of this informational packet)
  3. Administration of Tests: The test sessions run about 4 hours for both tests. The Office of Personnel Management will administer and score both tests.
  4. Applications for position openings or testing opportunities will only be accepted in response to a specific ATF job notice or vacancy announcement.

For updates on ATF Special Agent recruitment efforts, please visit our website at



  1. A bachelors degree from an accredited college or university


  1. Three years of general experience, one of which was equivalent to at least the grade 4. General experience is defined as progressively responsible work in criminal investigative or law enforcement fields that requires knowledge and application of laws relating to criminal violations;


  1. A combination of education and experience. Education is credited on the basis of 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours of undergraduate work which is equivalent to 9 months of work experience.
  2. Note: see non-qualifying general experience section.



  1. Two full years of progressively higher level graduate education;


  1. A masters degree or other graduate degree such as: an LL.B, J.D. etc.,


  1. One full year of specialized experience. Experience must have been equivalent to at least the GS-7 level. The applicant must have specific knowledge, skills and abilities using criminal investigative techniques to successfully perform the duties of the position.


  1. Work experience as a uniformed law enforcement officer, where the principal duties consist of investigations and arrests, involving traffic violations, minor felonies, misdemeanors, and comparable offenses; or
  2. Work experience in which the major duties involve guarding and protecting property; preventing crimes, and/or legal research without the application of investigative techniques.



  1. A bachelors degree with Superior Academic Achievement (SAA). Superior Academic Achievement is based on one of the following:
  2. Class standing applicants must be in the upper third of the graduating class.
  3. Grade point average applicants must have a minimum average of 2.95 out of a possible 4.0, based on 4 years of education or based on courses completed during the final 2 years of the curriculum.
  4. Three point five (3.5) or higher out of a possible 4.0 based on the average of the required courses completed in the major field of study or the required courses in the major field completed during the final 2 years of the curriculum.
  5. Membership in a national honor society as listed in the Association of College Honor Societies: Booklet of Information (1992-95) and/or Bairds Manual of American College Fraternities (1991).

Applicants are required to provide proof of SAA; or

  1. GS-7 requirements may also be met by completion of 1 year of full-time graduate education or
  2. One full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-5 grade level. Specialized experience is experience in or related to investigations of criminal violations that provided the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position. Examples of qualifying specialized experience include:
    1. - Leadership or membership on a military intelligence or criminal investigative team or component in which the principal duties consisted of security investigations, intelligence gathering or criminal prosecution.
    2. - Analyzing raw investigative data and preparing comprehensive written investigative reports.
    3. - Investigating complex claims involving suspected crimes or alleged fraud.
    4. - Investigating criminal cases requiring the use of recognized investigative methods that may have included presenting evidence in court.
    5. - Supervising or conducting interrogations that involved eliciting evidence, data or surveillance information.
    6. - Law enforcement work in which 50 percent or more of the time involved criminal investigations requiring the use of surveillance, undercover or other criminal detection methods.
    7. - Investigating computerized businesses and/or accounting systems and forming sound conclusions as to related criminal business practices and compliance with federal laws and regulations.
    8. - Investigative work that required rapid, accurate judgments and sound decision-making in applying regulations, instructions and procedures.
    9. Successful completion of formalized programs of in-service training for any of the above.

© 2012 High Priority Targeting, Inc.