Police Detective: Career Profile, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements
Can you piece together evidence to track the motives of the criminal mind? Police detectives attempt to do so by performing a variety of tasks. Read on to learn about the duties and training requirements behind this law enforcement career. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is My Police Detective Career Profile?
As a police detective, you are a plainclothes investigator who investigates crime. You interpret evidence, interview witnesses, and arrest suspects if enough probable cause is discovered. A significant amount of your time may be spent observing a suspect, which can involve working irregular hours for a period of days or weeks. Most police detectives start off as uniformed officers before gaining the necessary experience to advance to the detective level.
You may specialize in a field, such as homicide, robbery or fraud. Your police detective work may involve many activities that could be potentially life threatening. Criminal cases are assigned on a rotating basis, and you pursue a case until an arrest is made or the case dropped. Part of successfully solving a case involves keeping accurate and detailed records that can be upheld in a court of law.
How is My Job Outlook?
The police detective profession was expected to grow at the average rate of ten percent for the 2008-2018 decade, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). The best employment opportunities may be found with local law enforcement agencies or in urban areas with high crime rates. You may experience higher competition for available positions for state and federal agencies. The BLS also listed the average yearly salary for police detectives as $73,010 in May 2010.
What Are My Educational Requirements?
You will need to hold a high school diploma to work with most law enforcement agencies. You may help your chances of reaching the detective level by completing a 4-year bachelor's degree program in criminal justice, police science or a related field. As a student in one of these programs, you may take coursework in crime prevention, public relations, emergency planning, criminal psychology, forensic investigation and constitutional law. Keep in mind that you may be able to pursue these college-level credits and receive tuition assistance while working as a police officer.
In addition to classroom training, you usually begin your career as a uniformed police officer after completing a police academy training program. Your police academy training may include instruction in firearms use, emergency vehicle driving, criminal justice, physical fitness, defensive techniques, officer safety and traffic control. You may be considered for promotion to detective after gaining six months to three years of experience as a uniformed officer.
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