Would you like to solve crimes? Do you have it in your heart to stop crime and protect citizens? Then becoming a detective might just be the perfect job for you.

In this article we will explore the path to becoming a detective, which is a career option in law enforcement. We will also answer important questions like:

  • How long does it take to become a detective?
  • What is the starting salary of a detective?
  • Is it difficult to become a detective?
  • Can you become a detective without a degree?
The job of a detective is to investigate and solve crimes. Is it one of the career options of a police officer.

What is the job of a detective?

A detective, also sometimes referred to as a law enforcement officer, or investigator, performs the following activities as part of their job:

  • Reduce crime by enforcing the law of society
  • Investigate crimes
  • Analyze clues
  • Follow up on leads by conducting interviews
  • Make arrests of people as a result of investigations
  • Gather evidence and facts in preparation for criminal court cases
  • Testify in potential court cases
  • Administrative work such as writing case files, keeping notes, compare information, conclude reports etc.

Being a detective requires you to have the education of a police officer. If you do not have police academy training, your best option is to become a private investigator.

How to become a detective

To become a detective, you first need to become a police officer, then earn experience and be promoted. The steps to becoming a detective are:

  • Become a police officer. To do this, you must be a citizen, have a high school diploma, be 17-21, pass a test and graduate from the police academy. Read more
  • You then need to work as a police officer. Typically, you must gain 4-5 years of experience as a police officer.
  • You can then be promoted to detective and start to work in this field. In law enforcement agencies, the promotion ladder is clearly defined.
  • You must then attend detective or investigator training programs
  • Some types of detectives have a special investigator certification
  • You can then start working and call yourself a detective
  • You need a bachelors degree to work in criminology, criminal justice or human services, but not to be a detective.
  • Some police departments allow you to trade a college degree for some of the experience years.
  • You will need personal skills such as keen perception, leadership skills, superior communication skills, multi-tasking, physical stamina and good writing skills.

How much does it pay? A detective can make around 70-85.000$ per year.

Difference between a police officer and a detective

Both detectives and police officers are officers of law enforcement.

Detectives, unlike police officers, do not patrol the streets and give people citations. The are assigned to cases and work to gather evidence from crime scenes and conduct interviews. They can be both plain clothed and uniformed.

Detectives are also reactive (begin work when a crime as been committed), whereas police officers are preemptive (will work to stop crimes from being committed).

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