What does a detective do?
Detectives carry out investigative tasks such as gathering evidence and collecting facts for criminal cases. They are typically in normal clothes to be discreet in their investigations. They observe the activities and behavior of suspects and arrest people who break the law. They also write reports and examine and maintain investigation records. Often times these reports and records are used in court. They also carry out interviews of witnesses and suspects. They often go to extreme measures such as misleading, lying, and pressuring suspects and witnesses to get a confession or other facts about a crime. Some detectives focus of specific types of crime such as fraud, burglary, or homicide and work for more than one agency. Some detectives focus on historical crimes and conduct a vast amount of research searching through old files and documents.
What kind of training does a detective need?
Detectives need at least a high school diploma and some police departments require 1 or 2 years of college education and a few require a college degree. Most detectives have completed some college courses and many have graduated from college. Many community colleges and large colleges and universities offer programs in criminal justice, law enforcement, and justice administration. Majority of detectives obtain their job knowledge from on the job training through their department’s policy academy. The training typically includes classroom instruction and hands-on experience with experienced detectives. Many detectives complete continuing education and training to improve their performance on the job.
What are the prospects for a career as a detective?
Employment of detectives is projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Population growth and demand for more investigative services will increase demand for detectives.
Job prospects are expected to be excellent, especially for detectives who are highly qualified with extensive experience and those with college training or military experience. Many job openings will also occur from the need to replace detectives who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do detectives make?
As of August 2009, the middle 50% of detectives earned annual salaries between $32,656 and $48,876. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $56,577 (2).
A career as a detective is a great choice for people who are interested in law enforcement and investigations. Detectives should enjoy working with the public and have excellent communication skills. Integrity, honesty, and good judgment are necessary characteristics. Detectives must be comfortable taking risks and say calm during dangerous and stressful situations. They must always be alert and aware of their surroundings.