ATF Technicians & Professionals

Excellent job opportunities for various professionals are available with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Since this agency has numerous responsibilities, it hires specialists from the administration, general management, human resources, laboratory science, information technology, and intelligence fields. Regardless of specialty, every ATF employee, including investigators, technicians, and agents, is dedicated to the bureau's mission and priorities.

Lawyers & Attorneys
The ATF's central mission is to enforce federal gun laws, tobacco and alcohol trafficking regulations, the provisions of the Gun Control Act, and other laws falling under its purview. The ATF is a small agency compared to other federal regulatory agencies, but it has broad law enforcement, homeland security, and regulatory duties pertaining to the manufacture and distribution of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. As a result, the ATF offers excellent job opportunities to attorneys, recent graduates of law school, interns, and other legal professionals.

The Office of Chief Counsel consists of 80 attorneys responsible for providing legal advice and services in support of the bureau's operations and programs nationwide. Most ATF attorneys work at headquarters in the District of Columbia where they offer legal counsel and services and provide strategic guidance to top ATF officials. ATF attorneys practice in one of the following divisions: firearms, explosives, and arson, litigation, criminal law, forfeiture, and disclosure, and administration and ethics. ATF attorneys are also assigned to work in field offices nationwide where they primarily assist ATF investigators and field agents conducting investigations and preparing evidence for trials.

Even though the duties of ATF lawyers vary by location and division, ATF lawyers nationwide work together to fulfill and support the ATF's core values and central mission as a regulatory and law enforcement agency. ATF attorneys are often encouraged to seek opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge by accepting new assignments in other legal divisions within the bureau.

For Aspiring Students
Summer Law Intern Program
This internship is offered through the Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP) which is sponsored by the Department of Justice. Applicants being admitted into the SLIP are paid during their internship. As such, admission is very competitive, and most applicants are law students finishing their second year of law school. After graduating, law students can apply for a summer internship administered by the Department of Justice prior to filling a judicial clerkship or completing more graduate study. Potential interns should visit http://www.usdoj.gov/oarm/arm/sp/sp.htm for more details about the Department of Justice's summer internship program. Applications are typically due by September.

Volunteer Legal Intern Program
Students not accepted into the Department of Justice's Summer Law Intern Program can seek other opportunities with the ATF, which offers unpaid in-semester and summer internships for students at its Washington D.C. headquarters and other locations nationwide. Law students who complete certain internships will earn academic credit following successful completion, but credit is subject to the policies of specific law schools. Interested law students must submit a cover letter and resume to chiefcounsel-internships@atf.gov. Apply for internship programs before these deadlines:

  • Spring semester: October 1
  • Summer: December 1
  • Fall semester: June 1

Note: To get an update on the status of your application, send an email to the same address, but provide the name of the term for which you're applying, (fall, spring, summer), within the subject line.

Permanent Job Opportunities for Graduating Law Students
The ATF has partnered with the Department of Justice to provide students the opportunity to apply for post-graduation jobs through the Attorney General's Honors Program. Law students preparing for graduation must apply through this program to be considered for entry-level lawyer positions with the DOJ or ATF. Applications must be submitted by September of the third year of law school or the final year of a clerkship. Additional details about this program are available at http://www.usdoj.gov/oarm/arm/hp/hp.htm. The ATF or DOJ will not hire recent graduates or those who've completed clerkships not applying through this program.

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Forensic Chemist
Forensic chemists employed by the ATF are responsible for conducting forensic investigation, interpretation, and analysis of the structure, chemical and physical properties, and molecular composition of various substances. They must understand how various chemicals react when combined and how much energy is necessary to alter the composition of various substances. To begin a forensic chemist career with the ATF, you must hold a bachelor's degree in chemistry at a minimum, (holding a master's degree enhances employment opportunities), and possess experience relevant to job responsibilities.

The following are typical duties for forensic chemists employed by the ATF:
  • Possess expertise in forensic evidence analysis to investigate arson, bombings, and other crimes. They're frequently required to review evidence recovered from fires, such as fire debris, trace evidence, (including soil, glass, fibers, hair, etc.), and explosive residue.
  • Assist police officials investigating crime scenes and teach them how to gather and preserve collected evidence. They also conduct chemical analysis tests during the course of criminal investigations. Samples collected and analyzed by forensic chemists are typically complex and dissimilar to other specimens, so they must frequently modify evidence analysis procedures. Forensic chemists process gathered evidence, review police reports and other documents, adhere strictly to federal regulations, and review academic research to learn about new evidence analysis methods.
  • Develop and modify investigative methods, procedures, and strategies to conduct complex examinations. Examination procedures frequently require the use of instrumental procedures, including x-ray fluorescence, infrared spectrometry, liquid chromatography, x-ray diffraction, ion chromatography, gas chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, gas chromatography, in addition to wet chemistry. Chemists employed by the ATF interpret and analyze test results to determine whether evidence is applicable to criminal investigations. After evidence is analyzed and all relevant tests are performed, forensic chemists are responsible for preparing reports with their supported conclusions.
  • Identify areas for improvement and develop new procedures or scientific methodologies to correct problems and enhance efficiency. Additionally, they propose, organize, and initiate research to improve investigative analysis. They review and test new technology being considered for use by the ATF.
  • Consult other federal agencies and local and state police departments about criminal investigations and investigative methods.
  • Provide expert testimony in court. Additionally, they brief prosecuting attorneys about the significance of collected evidence and criminal investigation results.

Forensic Investigative Auditor
To protect American citizens, prevent violent crime, and enforce federal regulations pertaining to the possession and distribution of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was established. In addition to these duties, the ATF operates the Financial Investigative Services Division (FISD) to conduct scientific audits and financial fraud investigations. This division is staffed with talented and knowledgeable forensic investigative auditors.

Forensic investigative auditors have the following responsibilities:

  • Conduct forensic auditing and other accounting procedures to investigate financial crimes and uphold federal regulations
  • Consult other ATF employees responsible for investigating financial fraud, conducting audits, and utilizing other forensic accounting procedures while analyzing balance sheets and other financial reports
  • Prepare detailed reports and relay findings following financial fraud investigations which are typically then provided to prosecuting attorneys and grand juries
  • Advise prosecutors and law enforcement officials through conferences and briefings
  • Investigate companies and individuals suspected of fraud and other financial crimes
  • Interview accountants, bankers, insurance company officials, government regulatory officials, and other specialists while collecting information during criminal investigations
  • Analyze financial records and databases by utilizing forensic accounting methods to locate illegally obtained assets
  • Manage task forces responsible for conducting audits and other investigative activities during financial fraud investigations
  • Train ATF agents and other government regulatory specialists with forensic auditing responsibilities
  • Provide expert testimony at criminal and civil trials

Intelligence Research
ATF intelligence research specialists (IRS) are responsible for identifying, collecting, and compiling information about illegal trafficking and other activities typically involving multiple people. They also survey groups suspected of being involved with organized crime. To execute their duties, intelligence research specialists utilize deductive and inductive reasoning and other specialized skills to prepare detailed intelligence reports. These specialists also review existing intelligence to fill gaps in order to create detailed intelligence reports.

Intelligence research specialists have the following responsibilities:

  • Conduct coordination and liaison activities with other intelligence specialists at field offices
  • Conduct intelligence research within a specified area and participate in complex assignments with teams
  • Perform intelligence analysis designed to support current investigations by utilizing various procedures, including telephone toll record evaluation, link analysis, and visual surveillance
  • Utilize various analytical methods to develop in-depth reports. Additionally, they're responsible for briefing law enforcement officials and other specialists
  • Maintain and develop databases utilized to generate statistical reports
  • Inform public officials about intelligence trends, developments, and changes, in addition to new investigative methods used by ATF agents
  • Generate intelligence by analyzing and compiling facts after receiving requests from regulatory officials and ATF agents
  • Analyze intelligence trends, current procedures, and new methods utilized to gather, store, and retrieve intelligence utilized by ATF agents
  • Work in task forces, committees, task forces to solve technical problems, relay information to colleagues, and organize multi-divisional projects

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