How to Become an ATF Agent in Maryland

Special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conduct a variety of investigations from their Baltimore Field Office at Hopkins Plaza to take down federal criminals in Maryland. These agents specialize in investigating the following types of federal crimes:

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  • Firearms trafficking
  • The illegal use of firearms and explosives
  • Bombings and acts of arson
  • The illegal diversion of tobacco products and alcohol

In addition to investigations into specific criminal acts and conspiracies, experts in arson and explosives solve crimes through forensic work at the ATF Fire Research Laboratory in Beltsville.  This is the largest lab in the world that investigates fire scenes and provides assistance both nationally and internationally.

Becoming an ATF Agent in Maryland

The ATF seeks special agents who are in top physical and mental condition.  Those seeking careers with the ATF must meet a number of basic requirements that are common to federal law enforcement agencies.  These include:

  • Being a US citizen
  • Being registered with the Selective Service System unless they are exempt
  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Being between 21 and 36 years old
    • Exceptions can be made for the following people:
        • Federal civilian law enforcement officers
        • Veterans

Applicants can apply at three different levels with differing educational requirements.

G-5.  A bachelor’s degree in any field

G-7.  Either a year of graduate study in one of the following fields (or one related):

  • Criminal justice
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology


Provide evidence of superior academic achievement in a bachelor’s degree program in one of these fields.  This can include:

  • At least a 2.95 GPA for all undergraduate courses
  • At least a 3.45 GPA for courses in the applicant’s major
  • Rank in the upper third of the class
  • Membership in a national honor society

G-9.  Having one of the following:

  • A master’s degree or two full years of study leading to a degree in the following or a related field:
    • Criminal justice
    • Political science
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • A J.D.
    • An LL.B.

Applicants who were law enforcement officers or have experience conducting criminal investigations may be exempt from part or all of the educational requirements.  The amount of experience required for this varies at the different grade levels.

The ATF encourages recruits to be in top physical condition, because they have to pass the agency’s Physical Task Test (PTT) several times throughout their training.

Training to Become an ATF Agent

Recruits undergo two phases of training before they start their jobs as ATF special agents.  First is approximately twelve weeks at the Criminal Investigators Training Program (CITP).  This takes place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia.  This training ranges from learning practical skills such as using firearms and improving driving skills to learning surveillance and the management of crime scenes.

The second part of the training process involves about 15 weeks of Special Agent Basic Training (SABT).  Recruits learn law enforcement basics such as writing reports and interviewing people.  They also learn specific ATF skills such investigating explosions and fire and arson cases.  Tactical and physical training are an integral part of this training course.

Maryland ATF Initiatives

In order to combat crime in Maryland, the Baltimore Field Office of the ATF has implemented several initiatives that target violent activity.

Firearms Trafficking Team – The ATF created this special squad in 2010.  Its agents are dedicated to finding the source of illegal guns in Maryland.  By partnering with over sixteen local and state law enforcement agencies, agents have recovered over one thousand illegal weapons.

Regional Area Gang Enforcement (RAGE) – This unit was created in response to the growing threat of violent gangs in the Maryland and the DC metropolitan area.  They have implemented the RCIO statute against several defendants.  This holds them accountable for violent actions of their whole gang.  Prominent gangs that have been targeted include the following:

  • Latin Kings
  • 18th Street Gang
  • MS-13


Baltimore and the National Response Team

The ATF activated the National Response Team in 2010 to investigate a nine hour fire at a commercial building in Baltimore that caused $4.5 million in damage.  Veteran special agents in this team work with the following types of specialists to examine high profile fires:

  • Explosives enforcement officers
  • Forensic chemists
  • Fire protection engineers
  • Computer forensic support
  • Canines that specialize in detecting:
    • Accelerants
    • Explosives

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