Average Salary: $77,120
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,061,000
ATF agents earn a base annual wage of 35-45k a year. However, the amount of money you actually take home depends on a number of factors. There are certain "grades" or levels that applicants are hired into based on their experience. For example, those hired as Grade 5 Step 1 agents are paid at the lower end of that scale, while those hired as Grade 9 Step 1 agents start out at a bit more. Then, as you prove yourself and move up the ladder, you can be eligible for various promotions, raises and perks. Remember how good it felt to go all the way from Grade 5 to Grade 9 in school? It's kinda like that. Except not at all.
As with most jobs, agents can make more if they live in an area of the country that has a high cost of living. In addition, special agents who perform duties after two hours of any overtime may receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP). Those working on special assignments, undercover, or on operations generally also qualify for LEAP. Bring in a lot of that extra income over the span of several months, and you could be having yourself quite the LEAP year.
This Chihuahua started leaping in February, and hasn't stopped since.
ATF agents generally work office hours from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Because agents often work overtime during undercover operations, they make an additional 25 percent for each hour on the job. Think you should make more? Better not try helping yourself to money found in raids. One such ATF agent, Steven Campbell, made that mistake when he stole money out of a house during a drug raid. He was ratted out by another agent who saw him slip the money into his pants. Now he's doing hard time—over a year in a federal prison. Not sly, that one.