Steps to Become A Detective

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the employment of Police and Detectives is expected to grow by 5% from 2018 to 2028, which will create around 37,500 jobs in the country. If you want to play a role in safeguarding the life and property of the state’s citizens, then you should consider joining this rewarding field.

This informative article will help you learn about the job responsibilities and the career prospects of detectives. The guide will also talk about the procedure of becoming a detective.

What Does a Detective Do?

Detectives and Criminal Investigators are mostly responsible for:

  • Investigating various types of crimes
  • Examining the crime scene for evidence and clues
  • Documentation, preservation and analysis of the evidence
  • Conducting interviews with witnesses and suspects
  • Observing the activities of suspected criminals
  • Obtaining warrants, participating in raids and making arrests
  • Writing detailed reports, preparing cases and testifying in court
  • Interacting with other law enforcement bodies to gather and disseminate criminal intelligence information

Steps to Become a Detective

The procedure of becoming a detective in the U.S. consists of the following steps:

Step 1: Obtain High School Education

Aspiring detectives must possess at least a high school diploma or equivalent, although many police departments and federal agencies expect candidates to have a college degree or some college coursework.

Step 2: Pursue an Undergraduate Degree

The next step is to pursue a two-year long Associate’s degree or a four-year long Bachelor’s degree in a related subject such as Law Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security, Sociology, Criminology, or Criminal Justice. Please note that federal agencies such FBI require prospective investigators and detectives to have a bachelor's degree.  

While in university, you can also take elective courses and learn a foreign language. Many federal agencies favor applicants who are multi-linguals, hence learning a new language would make you a more desirable candidate.

Step 3: Graduate From the Police Training Academy

In order to qualify for police academy training, candidates are expected to meet a number of conditions. They have to be U.S. citizens; they should be physically and mentally fit; should have some college experience, and should have no felony charges. The age requirements generally vary by region, thus you should check your state pages for age related criteria.

The police academy training includes classroom instructions on topics like police ethics, civil rights, constitutional laws, and local and state laws. Candidates also receive training in areas like emergency response, first aid, self-defense, patrol procedures, use of firearms and traffic control.

Step 4: Gain Work Experience

Individuals usually start off their careers as police officers before they are promoted to the position of a detective. Therefore you will be required to work as a police officer for a couple of years, before you can be considered for this senior role.

How Much Does a Detective Earn?

As per the salary estimates shared by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Detectives and Criminal Investigators earned an annual mean wage of $86,030 in May 2019. That year, the top paying state for Detectives and Criminal Investigators in the U.S. was Alaska, with an annual mean pay of $113,420, followed by Hawaii ($109,320), California ($107,760), New Jersey ($103,460), and Massachusetts ($102,350).

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