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Industry Operations Investigators

IOIs conduct a fireworks inspection

Industry operations investigators (IOIs) support ATF’s regulatory mission by conducting regular inspections and investigations into regulated firearms and explosives industries. IOIs work closely with new and existing licensees to make sure their businesses meet all federal laws and regulations. They inspect their records and inventories to make sure all items are documented correctly and stored safely. During this process, they also look for evidence of trafficking and other criminal activities.

As of January 2020, there are 811 IOIs working in various ATF field offices across the country. 


All newly hired IOIs must first pass the IOI Basic Training at the ATF National Academy. During the intense 10-week program, they become experts in firearms and explosives federal laws and regulations. IOI trainees learn how to conduct inspections and investigations of federal firearms and explosives licensees and permittees, and how to identify and safely handle different explosives and firearms materials. They also learn how to analyze trends and recognize patterns of trafficking and diversion schemes. 

IOIs must participate in annual training recertification to maintain their credentials. Those interested in expanding their career opportunities may apply to the Explosives Technology Certification two-year program. 

Industry Outreach

An industry operations investigator conducts an interview in the office.

IOIs serve on the front lines of ATF’s regulatory operations by building collaborative partnerships with explosives and firearms industry members. IOIs lead informational outreach seminars to help dealers, manufacturers and importers learn about their legal responsibilities. IOIs also conduct training sessions for industry members, trade groups and the public to keep them informed about regulatory requirements. 

Combating Violent Crime 

In the past, the federal government did not have a way to accurately monitor the firearms and explosives industry without manually reviewing large amounts of data from local and state organizations. This process slowed down law enforcement’s ability to identify criminal activity and bring violent criminals to justice. 

ATF created the IOI role because their work continues to improve the investigative process. They use leading-edge technology to analyze trends in criminal misuse and trafficking. When licensees report a theft or loss from their inventory, IOIs work closely with ATF special agents to investigate the incident and recover the firearms or explosives. They also work proactively with licensees to improve the safety and security of their premises and storage. 

Becoming an IOI

Industry operations investigators get to work closely with federal licensees across the country to help them understand and comply with federal laws regulations. This role is ideal for candidates with strong interpersonal skills who want to deepen their technical and legal knowledge of firearms and explosives. Our application process and conditions of employment for new IOIs are designed to ensure this exciting and rewarding career is the right fit for you.

Explore this career path  

Last Updated: April 19, 2024

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