How To Become a Detective or Criminal Investigator


Most people may not know how to become a detective or criminal investigator and may be interested but intimidated by the unknown. Like any other profession, there are educational requirements and specialized training involved. However, the process is not complicated and can be achieved with the right motivation and dedication. The following is a brief walk-through of the process to become a detective or criminal investigator.  

The road to becoming a police detective or criminal investigator starts with applying to the police force. Usually this requires a certain amount of education, ranging from a High school diploma or GED to a college degree. The educational requirements depend on the requirements of the particular police department. Other requirements are the ability to pass a written exam, physical fitness test, a thorough criminal background check and be at least 21 years of age.

Once the actual application is approved the next step would be to attend the police academy. At the police academy trainees will be taught the necessary skills needed to keep themselves and the community safe. The police academy training is difficult, to say the least. When going through training this is when the trainees will need to muster their inner strength and perseverance to make it through to the end - which can take as long as eight months to reach. Trainees will endure long days that include hours of physical training, fire arms training as well as an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC).

To become a detective or criminal investigator the trainee must be able to persevere through training and will then become an actual police officer. At this point, if his performance meets or exceeds the expectations of the department the officer can become eligible for promotion after a probationary period. Depending on the department's needs, the probationary period can vary. It can take as little as 6 months but as long as three years for advancement.

No matter how long the probationary period, every day that the individual is a police officer will be a learning experience which helps prepare him to become a detective or criminal investigator. Police work is on the job training. So every call the officer takes will help to hone his investigative skills and this will hopefully lead to the all-important promotion.

When the promotion is granted the newly promoted detective or criminal investigator will usually be assigned to a specific type of crime unit, for instance: sexual crimes, robbery/burglary, juveniles or the most coveted and revered position - the homicide division.

The average salary for detectives and criminal investigators, as estimated in May 2006, is $58,260; the lowest pay for the position is less than $34,480 and the highest is more than $92,590. This obviously depends on location and individual departmental budgets; you can increase your income potential slightly by taking continuing education courses online throughout your career.


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