POLICE DETECTIVES are responsible for enforcing the law. They are plain-clothes investigators who gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. They visit the scenes of recently committed crimes and try to reconstruct these crimes as completely as possible. They conduct interviews with victims and witnesses, examine records, observe the activities of suspects, and participate in raids or arrests. They usually specialize in one type of crime, such as homicide or fraud. They are assigned cases on a rotating basis and work on them until an arrest and a conviction occurs or the case is dropped.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $61,000 average per year ($29.25 per hour)
- A medium occupation (110,600 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow moderately (1.7% per year)
In most states Civil Service regulations govern the appointment of POLICE DETECTIVES, who must be U.S. citizens, at least 20 years old, and meet physical and personal qualifications. Eligibility for appointment depends on results of written exam as well as on education and experience. In large departments, applicants must have at least a high school education. Federal agencies require a college degree. Police departments increasingly prefer those with some college education. Many junior colleges, and colleges and universities offer programs in law enforcement.