So you want to be a detective? Fantastic! That’s what this site is all about. But being a professional detective is not all bright lights and high fives like on TV. The work is often gruelling. And that’s true for all types of detectives: police detectives (homicide), crime scene investigators, and PI’s, to name a few. Your job may require you carry out surveillance, conduct probing interviews, examine evidence in excruciating detail, and participate in arrests and raids.
Becoming a Detective
Is it Right For You?
Being a detective is one of the more stressful jobs in the United States. It is not for everyone. You will be required to put in long detail-oriented hours. You may witness some disturbing crime scenes, in person or through media files. The job can take its toll on the toughest of people; physically and emotionally.
Detective jobs cover a wide array of skills and duties, so you might be suited for one job but not another. For example, homicide detectives spend a lot of time on the streets, interviewing witnesses and following leads. Crime scene investigators spend most of their time inside a lab. Both careers still demand incredible focus and are stressful in their own right. But you can see why choosing the right kind of detective is so important. Research the different careers and assess your own strengths and weaknesses to find the best fit.
Getting the right education.
There is no “detective school” per say. Each job has unique educational requirements. Forensic detectives will be required to have a specialized education in either a Masters or Doctorate. Other careers such as police detectives more value experience and personality.
To become a police detective, you need to serve at least 5 years as a patrol officer. Most of the police departments in the US will require at least a high school diploma while recruiting a patrol officer. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many officers also hold a degree. Some departments prefer recruits who have a background in criminal justice while others might only look for a bachelor’s degree. Knowledge of foreign languages is always a major asset.
To become an FBI Agent then you will need some relevant work experience along with a Bachelor’s degree. Experience with the military or police service is advantageous. If you plan to work in the sector for financial frauds and crime, then it would be good to have experience as a financial analyst. Candidates are also required to clear medical, psychological, and physical tests. An extensive background check and an oral and written examination are also part of the process.
Cultivating the right skills.
Whether you join as a patrol officer or are appear for the position with the FBI or CIA, your skill-set will play an important role. You need to have an eye for detail and have strong analytical skills. Physical fitness is also an important consideration. The training program that you will go through will require you to be proficient in all these areas.
Getting the Job you Want
Getting through the application and interview process probably won’t be easy. These are serious job positions and will demand your best. Depending on what career you choose, you’ll be seeking employment by the government (local, state, federal) or a private company. Or maybe you’ll be self-employed if you are a PI. In that case you don’t need to impress an employer so much as a banker!
A Career Worth Pursuing
Working as a detective is a noble and exciting career pursuit. Dig deeper:
- Read more about becoming a detective.
- Explore the different detective types such as CIA, FBI, CSI, COP, and more. Read up on them and determine which fits your personality.
- Everything you need to know about private investigators.
- Learn tools and tricks the pros use such as fooling caller ID and using GPS for tracking.
- See how much detectives earn.
- Check out our famous detectives page.
- Various articles and resources for real enthusiasts!