Criminal Profilers

crime scene tape with blurred forensic law enforcement background in cinematic tone and copy space.ATF’s criminal profilers are highly trained special agents who often have additional certification or training related to the fields of fire and explosive investigations. They work closely with their certified fire investigator and certified explosive specialist colleagues across the United States. Any personnel from law enforcement or fire service agencies may request their assistance.

Profilers provide behavioral-based operational support to agencies investigating unusual and/or repetitive violent crimes, communicated threats or matters of interest to law enforcement and fire service. Using criminal investigative analysis, profilers conduct an examination, evaluation and interpretation of all the suspect’s actions and interactions with the victim before, during and after the criminal act.


The criminal profiler role is an opportunity for current ATF senior special agents with a minimum of eight years of work experience. Once selected, new profilers go through 13 weeks of intense training focused on psychology, behavioral science principles, crime scene analysis and interpretation, forensic science and pathology. Candidates that successfully complete the initial training continue with on-the-job training, working on real cases alongside a host of law enforcement professionals including other agents, forensic psychologists, psychiatrists and medical examiners.

Profilers are required to complete the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) training which includes in-person instruction as well as on the job training. In order to successfully complete the BAU certification process, the criminal profiler must show proficiency in domestic and international terrorism/threats, cyber behavioral assessments, and violent crimes against children and adults. In addition, ATF’s criminal profilers regularly enhance their skills by attending courses on arson and bombing investigations.

Interagency Collaborations

Criminal profilers work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement and fire service partners to investigate cases involving violent crimes and other matters of interest. They also provide technical support and training on behavioral profiling techniques to first responders.

ATF’s profilers also serve as technical experts in their fields, and regularly share their research, techniques and intelligence reports with partner agencies. Their work is often published in scientific journals, including the recent study, “911 What’s Your Emergency?”: Deception in 911 Homicide and Suicide Staged as Homicide Calls.

Combating Violent Crime

Criminal profilers support their colleagues in ATF’s National Response Teams by traveling across the country for high-profile cases including the Boston Marathon bombing, Austin serial bombings, and Missouri church bombings. They also deploy to assist with joint investigations of violent crimes such as a mother convicted of killing her two children.

Last Reviewed January 11, 2021