Detectives and criminal investigators: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Detectives and criminal investigators are uniformed or plainclothes investigators who gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. They conduct interviews, examine records, observe the activities of suspects, and participate in raids and arrests. Detectives usually specialize in investigating one type of crime, such as homicide or fraud. Detectives are typically assigned cases on a rotating basis and work on them until an arrest and trial are completed or until the case is dropped.

Education Required
Police and detective applicants must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, although many federal agencies and some police departments require some college coursework or a college degree. Many community colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities offer programs in law enforcement and criminal justice. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in many federal agencies and geographical regions.
Training Required
Candidates for appointment usually attend a training academy before becoming an officer. Training includes classroom instruction in state and local laws and constitutional law, civil rights, and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, firearm use, self-defense, first aid, and emergency response.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 7% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Police officers usually become eligible for promotion after a probationary period. Promotions to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain usually are made according to scores on a written examination and on-the-job performance. In large departments, promotion may enable an officer to become a detective or to specialize in one type of police work, such as working with juveniles.
Median pay: How much do Police and Detectives make?
$61,600 Annual Salary
$29.62 per hour

Careers for Police and Detectives

  • Border guards
  • Border patrol officers
  • Conservation enforcement officers
  • Conservation officers
  • Constables
  • Cops
  • Criminal investigators
  • Deputy United States marshals
  • Deputy sheriffs
  • FBI investigators
  • Fish and game wardens
  • Fish and wildlife wardens
  • Fish wardens
  • Game wardens
  • Highway patrol officers
  • Homicide detectives
  • Motorcycle police
  • Mounted police
  • Narcotics detectives
  • Narcotics investigators
  • Park police
  • Patrol officers
  • Police and sheriffs patrol officers
  • Police detectives
  • Policemen
  • Policewomen
  • Railroad detectives
  • Railroad police officers
  • State highway police officers
  • State troopers
  • Track patrol
  • Transit and railroad police
  • Transit authority police
  • Transit police officers
  • Wildlife and game protectors
  • Wildlife control agents
  • Wildlife officers

Similar Careers