How to Become an ATF Agent in Illinois

Career criminals affiliated with gangs such as the Wheels of Soul who commit crimes while carrying guns are some of the primary targets of ATF Agents in Illinois. The ATF recently arrested several members from two Chicago chapters of this dangerous biker gang on racketeering and several murder charges.

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ATF gun seizures in Illinois are some of the highest in the country. In 2013 alone there were 11,681 illegal firearms taken off the state’s city streets, 22 of which were machine guns. Illinois is also a major source of guns illegally trafficked to neighboring states, with over 1,000 firearms sourced back to Illinois recovered in Ohio and 221 recovered in Wisconsin in 2013. With the unfortunate distinction of being the murder capital of America, more than 75 percent of recovered firearms in Illinois are from Chicago, which accounted for 5,802. The second leading city was Rockford with only 504.

Initial Requirements for ATF Jobs

Basic entry as a Special Agent into the Bureau necessitates meeting some initial requirements outlined by the ATF:

  • Being a US citizen between the ages of 21-36, with exceptions for federal police and veterans
  • Having a valid driver’s license and the ability to obtain a top secret clearance
  • Being height and weight proportionate and able to pass a drug test
  • Having a bachelor’s degree OR one of the following:
    • Three years of progressing responsibility working with criminal investigations or law enforcement
    • A combination of education and experience

When fulfilling the education requirement, candidates may consider obtaining a bachelor degree in any of the following subjects, because this combined with a superlative academic record can qualify candidates to enter the ATF at a higher rank and pay:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Forensic Science


Application Process and Initial Training

Agents who make it through the application process will then be assigned to more than half a year of new-ire training before being given an ATF job assignment.

This begins with 12 weeks spent at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia with the Criminal Investigator Training Program and is followed by an additional 15 weeks at Special Agent Basic Training.

These programs provide training in such subjects as:

  • Criminal investigations
  • Undercover and sting operations
  • Firearms
  • Physical defense techniques
  • Surveillance operations
  • Crime scene management
  • Federal court procedures

Applying for jobs with the ATF can be done by completing an application, which can be found on the federal USA Jobs website. When applications are processed and a candidate is selected, the remaining hiring process will involve:

It is also advisable to register with the ATF to be notified of any job openings.

The ATF and its Strong Presence in Illinois

The ATF plays an important role in Illinois, providing expertise through their involvement in task forces such as the US Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which recently gathered enough evidence to charge nine Aurora residents with drugs and weapons violations.

Solo ATF operations often involve informants or undercover agents, such as a recent investigation that led to the arrest of a man who illegally sold over 100 firearms and high-capacity ammunition clips in Chicago.

To provide coverage to all of Illinois, the ATF has offices located across the state in:

  • Fairview Heights at 333 Salem Place
  • Downers Grove at 3250 Lacey Road
  • Peoria at 100 NE Monroe
  • Springfield at 3161 West White Oaks Drive
  • Chicago at 525 West Van Buren Street
  • Rock Island at 1830 Second Avenue
  • Rockford at 308 West State Street

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