How to Become an ATF Agent in New Jersey

Special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) help to make New Jersey a difficult place for federal criminals to operate.  They focus their efforts on the following types of criminal offenders:

  • Firearms traffickers
  • Members of street gangs
  • Career criminals
  • Armed violent offenders
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In addition, ATF special agents use their expertise in investigating cases related to arson and explosives to assist state and local officials throughout New Jersey. In fact, the New Jersey branch of the ATF has a special agent who works with bomb-sniffing dogs to investigate suspicious packages in public places in an effort to help local law enforcement with crimes related to explosives.

Requirements to Become an ATF Agent in New Jersey

Residents of New Jersey who want to become special agents with the ATF must meet a number of requirements.  These include both the basic requirements to become a federal agent and those specific to the ATF.  The agency hires applicants at a number of different grade levels, and each has its own requirements.  Having a professional background that involved investigating crimes can help to substitute for the agency’s stringent educational requirements.

A bachelor’s degree in any field will suffice to enable residents of the state to apply for ATF special agents jobs at the GL-5 level.  Applicants for higher level positions are required to have formal training in one of the following fields or one that is closely related:

  • Criminal justice
  • Sociology
  • Political science
  • Psychology

Applicants who have obtained a bachelor’s degree with evidence of distinction can apply at the GL-7 level.  Another way to apply at this level is to have a year of graduate study in one of these fields.

A higher level of education is required to apply at the GL-9 level.  Applicants must have a graduate degree in one of these specialized fields or else have an LL.B. or J.D. degree.

ATF Training Programs for New Special Agents

Applicants who have been chosen to become special agents for the ATF undergo two phases of training.  First is basic training in investigating crimes.  This takes place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FELTC).  Recruits for the ATF train with those from other agencies in the Criminal Investigator Training Program.

After passing the FELTC course, recruits move to the ATF Academy where they receive more specialized training.  Special Agent Basic Training teaches such specific skills as investigating cases involving arson or explosives.  Recruits are also trained to identify firearms and investigate their trafficking.  Physical and tactical training is an important part of this course, and the recruits should be in top physical condition to be able to pass the course and have careers with the ATF.

New Jersey ATF Cases

Some of the federal crimes that ATF agents in the garden state were involved in solving are shown below:

Transporting Stolen Weapons – A man from South Carolina brought 22 firearms into New Jersey that had been stolen from gun stores in North Carolina and Tennessee.  These included such high-powered weapons as military-style assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns.  He was sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

Planning to Rob Drug Dealers – Two violent offenders planned to rob drug stash houses in Maple Shade in 2012 and sell the drugs themselves.  They were prepared to murder the drug dealers and were found with zip ties to subdue them.  They were convicted in 2013 and face a possible sentence of life in prison.

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