Police detectives investigate the root cause of a crime by analyzing crime scene evidence to help solve criminal cases. Those in this career may also have the title of agent or criminal investigator as well.
How to Become a Police Detective
Though you technically only need a high school diploma to become a detective, some agencies require some college or a college degree in law enforcement and criminal justice. From there, you’d need to be accepted into a training academy and start your journey as a police officer. Depending on the area that a police agency serves, the police force may also find it valuable if you speak another language as well. After gaining experience as a police officer, you could be promoted to detective. According to O*NET OnLine, almost 40% of police detectives surveyed had at least a high school diploma or equivalent with almost 40% having some college or earned an associate’s degree.
Job Description of a Police Detective
A police detective conducts an investigation of a crime and gathers evidence at the crime scene, interviews witnesses, and collects statements from those that may have information relating to the case. When at a crime scene, they also ensure evidence is not tampered with to keep the evidence clean.
Detectives must analyze the evidence and data collected to attempt to explain the circumstances of the crime in their final report. A knowledge in psychology is helpful in order for them to understand human behaviors, what motivates people, and identify behavioral and affective disorders. Detectives should have good written and oral communication skills as they must craft detailed reports, keep well-written documentation, and provide testimony in court.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Police and Detectives.
National Center for O*NET Development. 33-3021.01. O*NET OnLine.