Police detectives, also known as criminal investigators or simply detectives, are law enforcement officials with specialized training and knowledge in solving crimes. When a tough case presents itself, police detectives are called in to survey the scene, collect evidence, and determine the motives and perpetrators involved.In order to become a police detective, you need to put in a considerable amount of time and effort. The academic and physical training is rigorous to make it up to the rank of detective.If you’re considering pursuing a career as a police detective, read on to learn more about the requirements you need to satisfy.

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What is a police detective?

Police detectives are a type of law enforcement officials, which rank higher than your typical police officer. These are individuals who work as investigators to look into and solve crimes. Their job involves carrying out tasks such as:

  • Examining crime scenes
  • Talking to witnesses and suspects
  • Gathering evidence
  • Writing reports
  • Arresting criminals
  • Appearing in court to help convict suspects

Police detectives are employed at all levels, including local, state, and national. As a police detective, you can specialize in a specific area of law enforcement such as drugs, standard crimes, or cybercrimes.

Being a police detective is tough work. The hours are long, and detectives work full time. Typical work shifts are 24 hours and new detectives can expect to put in a lot of long night shifts. The job can also be extremely dangerous and that’s why detectives must always be armed while on duty and by able to physically defend themselves.

Police Detective Requirements

  • Have a minimum of an associate’s degree in criminal justice
  • Be a police officer with a solid reputation (typically for 2-5 years depending on the police department)
  • Have excellent report writing skills
  • Show strong team working abilities

Candidates interested in becoming detectives must also exhibit the following personality traits:

  • Resilience
  • Perceptiveness
  • Dependability
  • Strong work ethic
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Critical thinking
  • The ability to think outside the box
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills

In some precincts, police officers may be required to complete a promotional exam and undergo further police detective training in order to become detectives. This may include further firearms training and physical training required to cope with the demands of the job.

Step to become police detective

In order to become a police detective, you have to first be a police officer. Police detectives are usually officers who have been promoted after making a strong reputation for themselves. After working for a considerable amount of time as officers, individuals may be considered for promotion to the rank of detective.

To summarize, here are the steps you need to take if you wish to become a police detective:

  1. Complete a minimum of an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.
  2. Meet the minimum requirements for becoming a police officer and enroll in academy training.
  3. Work as a police officer for several years and build a strong reputation for yourself.
  4. Network with other police detectives and get valuable feedback from them on how to be selected for a promotion.
  5. Apply to be promoted to the rank of police detective.
  6. Complete any necessary further training or exams to become a detective.

Job Prospects and Salary

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), detectives and criminal investigators made an annual median wage of $86,940 in 2020.
Furthermore, the top 5 states in which police detectives were paid the most in 2020 were:


Annual Mean Wage

New Jersey$106,120

Furthermore, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the projected employment growth for detectives and criminal investigators from 2019 to 2029 will be 1%, which indicates that there will be very little or no change. During this time, it is estimated that there will be around 114,700 job openings in this field. This will likely make seeking employment as a police detective extremely competitive. To ensure you stand out during the hiring process, make sure you have excellent educational credentials and several years of hard work and experience behind you. This will increase your chances of being recruited as a police detective.

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