ATFE Salaries

Under the direction of the Unite.k0 States Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF or ATFE) is responsible for preventing, detecting and responding to acts of terrorism and other violent crimes. The professionals of the ATFE are called upon to investigate and prosecute crimes involving terrorist acts, explosives, firearms, and arson, as well as criminal gangs, the trafficking of firearms and explosives, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco. The ATF also actively partners with law enforcement agencies, public safety agencies, and communities through training and the distribution of information.

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The ATFE, as a federal agency, utilizes the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) General Schedule pay schedule as a guideline for special agent salaries and the General Schedule (GS) for industry operations investigators. Within each pay grade are a number of steps that allow federal agencies like the ATF assign salaries to federal employees that best reflect their skills, education, and experience.

For example, Step 1 of Grade 5 within the LEO pay schedule is $33,829, while Step 10 of the same level is $42,055, thereby allowing federal law enforcement agencies to remain within a set pay grade while still compensating individuals based upon their individual skills. Many federal government positions are also eligible for additional pay based upon their location and upon Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), which currently stands at 25 percent above the locality pay.

ATFE Salaries: Special Agents

As of 2013, the LEO base annual salary range for ATF special agents was $33,829 (Grade 5, Step 1) to $42,948 (Grade 9, Step 1), although the base ATF salary for special agents is dependent upon grade qualifications. The grade at which candidates will qualify is determined upon review of application materials by the Recruitment, Hiring and Staffing Center.

To qualify for special agent jobs with the ATFE, candidates must meet the basic qualifications at Grade 5:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 36 at the time of appointment
  • Possess a valid and current driver’s license
  • Pass the ATF special agent exam
  • Complete the special agent applicant questionnaire
  • Pass a drug test
  • Pass a medical examination, which includes passing vision and hearing test
  • Pass the ATF pre-employment physical task test
  • Successfully complete a structured panel interview

ATFE salaries are often reflective of locality pay. Special agents receive an additional percentage of their base pay, depending on the city/state where they are assigned. The current rate of locality pay is between 14.16 and 35.15 percent.

An ATF salary for a special agent also includes Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), which is 25 percent added to locality pay. Finally, ATF special agents who are fluent in a foreign language and make substantial use of their abilities in the performance of their job may be eligible for additional pay (called cash awards) through the Foreign Language Award Program.

ATF agents may receive promotions throughout their careers. The full performance level for ATF agents is Grade 13.

ATFE Salaries: Industry Operations Investigator

As of 2013, the LEO base annual salary range for ATF industry operations investigators was $27,431 (Grade 5, Step 1) to $41,563 (Grade 9, Step 1). ATFE salaries for industry operations investigators are based upon qualifications, with the Recruitment, Hiring and Staffing Center determining a candidate’s salary grade based upon the examination of application materials.

Candidates must meet the basic qualifications of Grade 5 to be eligible for an ATF industry operations investigator job:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Possess a valid and current driver’s license
  • Must take and pass a drug test
  • Must successfully complete a background investigation for a top-secret clearance

ATFE industry operations investigators are eligible for locality pay above their ATF salary. The current range of locality pay is between 14.16 percent and 35.15 percent. Further, industry operations investigators, at the full performance level of Grade 13, may earn between $71,674 and $93,175. Candidates with foreign language proficiency may also be eligible for additional compensation if they can use it in their official duties.

Salaries for ATF agents and industry operations investigators include annual leave of between 13 and 26 days a year; sick leave of 13 days a year; paid holidays; low-cost health insurance; low-cost life insurance; a health improvement program; and a tax-deferred Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

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