Job Description for an ATF Investigative Assistant

ATF investigative assistants help defend against illegal firearm use.
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms guards against illegal use, trafficking and storage of guns and explosives. This agency also guards against criminal alcohol and tobacco offences, as well as domestic and foreign terrorism. ATF investigative assistants provide support to other agents through a variety of means, including data analysis and evidence organization.


    ATF investigative assistants must be citizens of the United States and pass a background security investigation. They also complete drug screening requirements, including random drugs tests. Candidates need to have at least one year of experience serving at the general schedule 5 (GS-5) federal grade level before progressing to GS-6, the designation for ATF investigative assistants. This federal system of work classification describes not only the duties but the pay system of assistants and other employees.

Knowledge and Promotion

    ATF investigative assistants are proficient in the use of communication equipment used by law enforcement, as well as computer databases and other hardware and materials. Candidates also know the basics of obtaining intelligence, analysis and presentation of data and investigative procedures. To qualify for promotion to a GS-7 level investigative assistant, one year of GS-6 experience is required. GS-7 applicants are able to produce reports using proper spelling, punctuation, grammar and format, apply legal terminology and understand the needs of their supervisors.


    Trial preparation is an important duty of an ATF investigative assistant, as they help special agents in coordinating witnesses, testimony and readying visual aids. They double-check case reports, ensuring correct warrant execution, serial number consistency and the chronological entry of case reports. Information such as real estate records, receipts and legal documents are also reviewed and arranged by investigative assistants. They collaborate with those in the field office to support their investigations. Assistants act as secretaries for group supervisors, when necessary.

Pay, Environment and Outlook

    Pay for an ATF investigative assistant ranges from $24,907 to $50,431 per year, depending on experience and pay grade. Since their work comprises mostly of research, data accumulation and organization, they tend to work indoors but will travel according to the requirements of the case. As a whole, the demand for criminal investigators is projected to grow slower than other types of police work, increasing by 3 percent compared to 7 percent for police and detectives on average.

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