Police Detective

Investigate crimes for a police force.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$39,000 – $119,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Police Detectives do?

Police Detectives are plain-clothed Police Officers usually assigned to task forces that focus on fighting one type of crime, like homicide or drug trafficking. As a Police Detective, your duties are more investigative in nature. You’ll also be called an Agent or Special Agent, particularly if you set your sights on working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Like your uniformed counterparts, keeping detailed records and filing meticulous reports is an essential, part of your job as a Police Detective—you’ll need great documentation if you are ever called to testify at a criminal trial. Unlike your uniformed counterparts, however, you are involved with each case on a much deeper level, tasked with putting together the pieces of the puzzle and figuring out “whodunit.”

Detectives are assigned to just one or two cases at a time, and work those cases until arrests are made or the District Attorney drops charges. You’ll recognize repeat offenders, interview victims to gather information and get inside the mind of perpetrators to remain one step ahead. Sometimes these assignments require going undercover, and busting criminals using knowledge you gain posing as an insider.

Because the nature of your work takes you so close to violent crimes, it can be difficult to keep your work life from affecting your home life. As many primetime police dramas depict, you probably won’t be able to completely divorce yourself from the darker side of human nature. The trick is to balance the evils you witness with the positive aspects of your career. Criminals will go to jail. Victims will be vindicated. Lives will be saved.

Should I be a Police Detective?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: City Detective, Fugitive Detective, Homicide Detective, Major Case Detective, Master Police Detective See More

    How to become a Police Detective

    Most Police Detectives have a Certificate or higher. Chart?chd=s:9lcjaa&chl=no+college+%2845%25%29|certificate+%2827%25%29|associate%27s+%2821%25%29|bachelor%27s+%287%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,45,45
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