How to Become an ATF Agent in Pennsylvania

ATF special agents are part of the Philadelphia Field Division, which includes the following field offices responsible for major operations:

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  • Philadelphia Group:
    • Violent Crime Impact Team
    •  Arson/Explosives
    •  Intelligence Group
    •  Trafficking


  • Pittsburgh Group
    • Industry Operations


  • Harrisburg Field Office:
    • Industry Operations

The ATF also has the following satallite office locations in Pennsylvania:

  • Erie Satellite Office
  • Reading Field Office
  • Lansdale Field Office (Industry Operations)
  • Wilkes-Barre Field Office (Industry Operations)


Pennsylvania ATF Agent Job Duties

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), special agents are responsible for:

  • Preparing criminal investigative case reports
  • Testifying for the federal government
  • Conducting investigations related to explosives, arson, firearms and the illegal distribution and sale of alcohol and tobacco
  • Investigating criminal violations of federal laws within the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement jurisdiction
  • Gathering and analyzing evidence
  • Executing search warrants
  • Following up on leads
  • Making arrests


How to Become an ATF Special Agent in Pennsylvania: Minimum Employment Requirements

Individuals who want to become ATF agents must be prepared to handle the rigors of this federal law enforcement career. They must:

  • Be tough, both mentally and physically
  • Be able to handle strenuous training
  • Be prepared to handle irregular hours
  • Be prepared to handle extensive travel

Individuals who are ready to meet the challenge and achieve a career as an ATF special agent must also be able to meet the agency’s requirements for employment. Candidates must:

  • Be between 21 and 36 at the time of appointment
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Qualify at the GL-5, GL-7, or GL-9 federal pay grade

Individuals who aim to meet the requirements of the GL-5 pay grade must either possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or at least 3 years of experience, which includes at least one year of specialized experience at the GL-4 level. Candidates may also qualify with a combination of education and experience.

Candidates who aim to qualify at the GL-7 level must either possess at least 12 months of specialized experience at the GL-5 level or possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a major in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, political science, or a closely related field and an overall GPA of at least 2.95 or a major GPA of at least 3.45.

Individuals who cannot meet the GPA requirements at the bachelor’s level may also qualify at the GL-7 level if they possess one full year of graduate study or a master’s degree or related graduate degree in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, political science, or a closely related field.

Completing the Application and Employment Process

All candidates for ATF jobs in Pennsylvania must be prepared to complete the application and employment process, which includes:

  • Taking and passing the ATF Special Agent exam
  • Taking and passing the ATF Assessment test
  • Taking and passing the ATF Physical Task test
  • Undergoing a comprehensive background check for a top-secret security clearance
  • Taking and passing a comprehensive medical examination
  • Successfully completing the 12-week Criminal Investigators Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia
  • Successfully completing the 15-week ATF Special Agent Basic Training


ATF Investigations in Pennsylvania

Recent ATF headlines out of Pennsylvania show the important work conducted by the special agents of this federal law enforcement agency:

  • January 2014: A Pennsylvania woman was sentenced for conspiring to transport firearms outside her state of residency. The special agents of the ATF discovered that the defendant purchased firearms for another individual in exchange for cocaine and money.
  • December 2013: A Philadelphia man pled guilty in federal court in connection with an airport hoax that included a threat of explosives on an aircraft. The ATF, along with the FBI, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General were involved in the investigation.
  • May 2013: Five individuals were convicted in a conspiracy to commit an armed robbery against another drug dealer. All defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to commit a robbery, conspiracy distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime. The case was investigated by the ATF and the Philadelphia Police Department.

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