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ATF Investigator Career, Job, and Training Information

ATF investigators, also know as industry operations investigators, are considered by many law enforcement professionals to be the backbone of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) regulatory mission. ATF investigators spend the majority of their time investigating cases and routinely come in contact with, and perform interviews of, individuals from all walks of life and all levels of industry and government. ATF investigators investigate and inspect persons and organizations within the industries which are regulated by ATF (e.g., users, dealers, importers, manufacturers, exporters, wholesalers, etc.); and are under the jurisdiction of the Gun Control Act, Arms Export Control Act, National Firearms Act, Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 and other Federal firearms and explosives regulations and laws.



  • The investigations and inspections conducted by ATF investigators are designed to fulfill the Federal government's regulatory responsibilities pertaining to the explosives and firearms industries. Investigators are responsible for finding evidence of falsied of records, inventories and document discrepancies through the investigation, analysis and examination of documents, records, and reports. All violations that are uncovered during the investigative process are in turn reported to criminal investigators for further action.



  • ATF Investigators are responsible for determining if individuals desiring to enter business in the regulated industries they monitor meet established legal requirements for obtaining a federal license or permit. They will conducts interviews, inspect buildings, and perform routine background investigations to determine suitability. They prepare detailed resports that present the results of investigations and inspections, and provide recommendations for further action when necessary.



  • Investigators use their unique knowledge of the Federal and state laws involving commerce in alcohol and tobacco to assist tosenior industry operations investigators, who are working with criminal investigators on alcohol and tobacco diversion investigations. As directed, ATF investigators verify and inspect inventories and utilizes intelligence data to review and analyze records and examine business operations.



  • Participates in conferences and discussions with Bureau officials concerning investigations and inspections. May develop presentations for industry associations and the public.
Conditions of Employment
  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • To be eligible for Federal employment, male applicants born after December 31, 1959, must certify at the time of appointment that they have registered with the Selective Service System, or are exempt from having to do so under Selective Service law.
  • Possess a current and valid automobile operator's license.
  • Be in compliance with ATF's drug policy.
  • Applicant must be physically able to handle the physical requirements of the position.
  • Applicants will not be reimbursed for relocation expenses, unless currently an ATF employee.
  • Take and pass a drug test.
  • This position may require overnight travel 11 or more nights per month.
  • Selected applicants will be appointed in the excepted service and must satisfactorily complete a two-year appointment, which includes but is not limited to successful completion of the basic training program.
  • Successfully complete a background check and thorough investigation for a top secret clearance.