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How to Become a Police Detective



If you are looking for a role in law enforcement where no two days will ever be the same, then you might like to become a police detective. Detectives work on the tough cases. They investigate homicides, drug operations, and violent crimes. It may take them just hours to crack a case, or sometimes years.

Police detectives are experienced law enforcement officers who are promoted when their excellent skills are acknowledged by their superiors. They work at local, state, and federal levels of law enforcement. To succeed as a police detective you'll need strong interpersonal skills, attention to detail, and an interest in criminal justice. While the role of the police detective is a challenging one, you can look forward to the opportunity of being able to contribute to your community.

Education Requirements to Become a Police Detective



To become a police detective, you'll need to first become a police officer. There are entry points in local, state and federal levels of government. While you only need a high school diploma to become a police officer, if you are looking at being promoted to the position of detective, you will need to gain a college degree. A specialization in criminal justice or law enforcement is ideal, however study in other areas will suffice usually.

At state level, a two year associates degree from community college may allow you to be eligible to become a police detective in some places. It's important to review the requirements of the branch you are interested in before you enroll in any courses.

If you want to work for a federal branch of law enforcement, such as the FBI, you will need a four year bachelors degree as a minimum. You will also need to pass stringent physical, psychological, and medical testing before you qualify for a role.

In most states you need to be between 18 and 21 to become a police officer. You'll also need to be a US citizen. To become a police detective, you should expect to put in a few years of work as a police officer before you have the opportunity for promotion.

Police Detective Job Description



For a police detective, there is no typical day at work. Each day will be different and will bring new challenges. Most detectives work within a specific area. For instance, homicide, violent crime, kidnapping, armed robbery, or drug investigations..

Here are some of the tasks you could be responsible for as a police detective:

  • Investigating a crime scene

  • Analyzing dangerous situations

  • Making arrests

  • Completing background checks

  • Questioning suspects

  • Questioning witnesses

  • Paperwork and report writing

  • Using computer databases

  • Communicating with colleagues


When you become a police detective, you have a role which is very important to the community. To investigate some of the most violent crimes and help to bring criminals to justice is to many detectives a privilege.

Police Detective Salary and Career Path



When you begin your career in law enforcement, you can expect to start working as a police officer. You could be completing paperwork, responding to call outs, or patrolling the streets. You will likely be subject to a probation period of six months to three years, after which you will be eligible for promotion.

With hard work and professional development you could expect to become a police detective. In the beginning you will be paired with an experienced partner, but as time progresses you will be given more responsibility and challenging cases.

The median wage of a detective is $60,000 a year. Starting out in law enforcement, your salary would be closer to $40,000 a year. Police work offers excellent job security, as well as benefits.

Some similar roles to that of police detective you might be interested in include:

  • Police officer

  • Cop

  • FBI Agent

  • US Marshal

  • Arson investigator

  • Coroner

  • Corrections officer

  • Private investigator


Police work can be very rewarding. When you become a police detective you have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to your community. If you're interested in a job in law enforcement that has plenty of variety and room for promotion then a career as a police detective might be right for you.
 
 
 
 
 
 

*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics
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