ATF Technician and Professional Career, Job, and ATF Employment Opportunities

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offers some really good career opportunities for a large variety of professionals. Because of the breadth and scope of the organizations mission, they employ professionals in a wide range of fields including intelligence analysis, information technology, laboratory sciences, human resources, general management, administration, etc. No matter the career field, all ATF employees — agents, investigators, and professionals alike — are dedicated to fulfilling ATF's priorities and accomplishing ATF's core mission.


The central purpose of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is to prevent violent crime by administering and enforcing the Gun Control Act, alcohol and tobacco trafficking laws and the Federal firearms and explosives laws. When compared with other federal agencies, the ATF is a relatively small agency with broad, interrelated missions which involve law enforcement, regulatory compliance, homeland security concerns, and alcohol and tobacco diversion. As such, the ATF provides aspiring attorneys, interns, and recent law school graduates with a variety opportunities to experience a diverse array of legal disciplines in a dynamic and collegial environment.

ATF's Office of Chief Counsel is made up of about 80 attorneys who provide legal services and advice to support the agency's programs and operations throughout the nation. A lot of attorneys who work with the ATF are located in Washington D.C. (ATF headquarters), where they provide legal advice, law services and strategic guidance directly to Bureau leadership. These attorneys are divided into four practicing groups, including: Administration and Ethics; Disclosure, Forfeiture and Criminal Law; Litigation; and Firearms, Explosives, and Arson. ATF attorneys are also found throughout the nation in local field offices, where they work with ATF field agents and ATF investigators in preparing cases.

Although the responsibilities of ATF lawyers and legal counsel will vary depending on the division or location to which they are assigned, ATF lawyers throughout the United States work hand in hand with one another as well as their clients to support the primary mission and core values of the ATF as a law enforcement and regulatory agency. ATF attorneys are frequently encouraged to take opportunities to increase their knowledge and experience by being assigned on details to other areas of legal practice.

For Aspiring Students

Summer Law Intern Program
Via the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP), the ATF provides a summer internship program for prospective ATF employees (SLIP is the Department's recruitment program for paid summer internships.) Admission to the ATF's summer internship program is highly competitive and most of the students applying are second year law students. Upon graduation, law students are eligible for a summer internship with the DOJ before entering a full-time graduate law program or judicial clerkship. Students can go to for more information on the DOJ's internship program. Application deadlines for the following summer are usually in September.

Volunteer Legal Intern Program
In addition to the DOJ's Summar Law Intern Program, ATF offers unpaid summer and in-semester internship opportunities at it's headquarters in Washington D.C. and a variety of other locations throughout the United States. Many of these positions provide academic credit for law students, subject to law school policy and practice. Law students who want to apply for a volunteer summer position should submit a cover letter and a resume via email to [email protected] The following are the application deadlines for internship programs:
  • Spring semester: October 1
  • Summer: December 1
  • Fall semester: June 1
Note: the contact method for application status updates is via the email address above. You'll need to indicate in the subject line of your email for which term you are applying (i.e. spring, summer, or fall).

Permanent Job Opportunities for Graduating Law Students
ATF also participates in DOJ's Attorney General's Honors Program. This program is the only method by which the ATF or DOJ hires graduating law students to fill entry-level attorney positions. The deadline for this program is usually in September of the fall semester of the student's final year of law school, or the final year of their judicial clerkship. You can visit for more information on this program. Again, as is the case with the DOJ, the ATF cannot hire students directly out of law school or following their judicial clerkship unless they apply through the Honors Program.

Forensic Chemist

A Forensic Chemist for the ATF is responsible for performing forensic investigation, analysis, and interpretation of the composition, physical and chemical properties, molecular structure and chemical reactions of substances; the prediction of transformation they undergo; and the amount of matter and energy included in these transformations. A career as a forensic chemist typically requires a full 4-year bachelors degree (and/or masters degree) as well as industry relevant training and experience in the field of forensic chemistry.

A forensic chemist with the ATF:
  • Is a subject matter expert in the analysis of forensic evidence gathered from criminal investigations of arsons and/or bombings in one or more specialized areas such as the identification of fire debris, explosive residue, or trace evidence (i.e. hair, fibers, glass, soil, etc.).

  • Is responsible for or assists with the processing of crime scenes and provides instruction and training to investigating officers on how to properly collect and preserve physical evidence at the crime scene. Forensic chemists also perform physical and chemical analyses and tests to provide information used to solve problems and cases. Samples received and processed by forensic chemists are generally complex and without precedent and will often require methods development and/or modification. Forensic chemists receive and process physical evidence, review background material submitted along with the evidence, relevant agency regulations, Federal laws and regulations, as well as manual and scientific literature.

  • Will develop, adapt and/or modify the methods, approaches, and procedures in order to perform examinations. These examinations more often than not will require both wet chemistry and instrumental procedures such as gas chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, ion chromatography, x-ray diffraction, liquid chromatography, infra-red spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence, as well as other procedures. ATF chemists are responsible for interpreting and evaluating the results of analyses to determine their scientific significance and/or validity and to ensure that all relevant questions are answered. Following the conclusion of chemical procedures and laboratory tests forensic chemists must prepare detailed reports to support their conclusions.

  • Are responsible for indentifying the need for development of information, new methodologies or unique new scientific approaches to address trends and/or problems. They also plan, organize and conduct studies to meet these needs. They evaluate new technologies and scientific equipment for acquisition or adoption by the ATF.

  • Functions as an advisor to outside Federal and state law enforcement agencies, concerning methodology problems in specialty areas of analysis.

  • Are required to serve as expert witnesses. They testify in court on cases examined and instruct prosecuting attorneys on the evidentiary significance or value of the results of examination.
Forensic Investigative Auditor

In valient and ongoing effort to protect the public, stop violent crime, and enforce U.S. Department of Justice asset seizure and forfeiture authority, the central mission of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Financial Investigative Services Division (FISD) is to grow and maintain a skilled team of forensic auditors trainted to apply the latest technologies and scientific audit methods to the financial investigations process.

Forensic investigative auditors:
  • Are experts in forensic auditing and accounting activities in regulatory financial inspections and criminal investigations.

  • Are tasked with the responsibility of providing the ATF expert direction and guidance in identifying, selecting and applying forensic accounting and financial investigative techniques employed in complex and/or highly sensitive financial inspections and criminal investigations.

  • Prepare concise reports and disseminate disclosures and conclusions developed during criminal financial investigations which can then be presented before Federal or State grand juries and Federal or State jury trials.

  • Provide expert guidance and consultation to prosecutor and the investigative team as a whole by conducting briefings and conferences.

  • Carry out forensic financial investigations of organizations or individuals suspected of being involved in criminal schemes.

  • Provide expert advice to ATF Special Agents as well as to State, Federal and local prosecutors regarding the financial condition, financial motivations and/or other financial aspects of a case being prosecuted.

  • Conduct interviews with accountants, insurance company representatives, representatives of financial institutions, and other pertinent individuals including State, Federal and local agency officials in an effort to obtain relevant financial information.

  • Research and analyze databases and complex financial records by employing advanced forensic accounting procedures in search of assets that have been illegally obtained.

  • Headup teams and/or task forces that are responsible for criminal financial investigations, forensic audits and other related tasks.

  • Provide ongoing forensic training to ATF as well as related Federal and State agencies and personell regarding financial investigations and forensic auditing and accounting matters.

  • Serve as an expert witness for both criminal and civil cases.
Intelligence Research

The Intelligence Research Specialist (IRS) occupation within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is tasked with identifying, gathering, and assembling mission critical information on major complex, conspiratorial-type (i.e., involve multiple defendants) criminal investigations of such targets as firearms and narcotics trafficking organizations, traditional and non-traditional organized crime groups, arson rings, and similiar criminal conspiracies, fronts, and organizations. In an effort to carry out their mission, Intelligence Research Specialists apply the techniques and principles of inductive and deductive reasoning, and the knowledge of either a functional or geographic area to produce complete intelligence reports. The Intelligence Research Specialist interprets and extrapolates existing data to fill gaps in existing information, and reviews and evaluates finished intelligence reports.

Intelligence Research Specialists:
  • Work in either an Intelligence Field Office or a Field Division Office, and are responsible for representing that organization, as well as the ATF, in performing liaison and coordination functions with individuals in other intelligence organizations and agencies.

  • Are require to perform intelligence research assignments within a defined area, and/or for performing parts of more complex assignments.

  • Regularly carryout complex intelligence analyses to support the investigative operations by using a variety of intelligence-gathering methods such as visual investigative, link analysis, and telephone toll record analyses.

  • Prepare detailed and in-depth intelligence analyses in order to develop analytical reports. They also present briefings on activities of criminal targets to department and agency to members of the criminal investigative team.

  • Are tasked with developing and maintaining databases to generate relational and statistical reports.

  • Are responsible for providing both advice and information on critical intelligence developments, trends, and changes in criminal investigative procedures and methods.

  • Generate useable intelligence information by extracting, then compiling, and finally analyzing factual information in response to requests from ATF Agents and other government organizations.

  • Are responsible for reviewing intelligence issues as they relate to trends, evolving procedures as well as the development of enhanced procedures for the collection, storage, and retrieval of mission critical intelligence information.

  • Participate in teams, task forces, committees, and conferences in order to resolve technical problems, exchange information, and coordinate multi-divisional activities.

  • Serve as a primary source of intelligence information for ATF Agents, consult ATF Agents and provide expert technical advice as the prosecution is preparing cases to take to trial.

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