Detectives come in all shapes and sizes and can specialize in vastly different areas of investigation. The common glue that binds all detectives is their quest for the truth. Whether it is a private detective, a homicide detective, or a forensic detective, they all use tools and facts to reveal a more complete story. This page is for educating our visitors on the different types of detectives, as well as other related professions.
Perhaps the most common type of detective, private detectives are also known as private investigators (PI’s) or private eyes. Heard of this guy Sherlock Holmes? Yeah, he’s a private eye. Private detectives generally work directly with clients who seek them out to investigate something. It could be personal, legal, or financial in nature. Common cases include missing persons and suspected infidelity. In many jurisdictions, PI’s are required to have a license to operate. Learn more about private investigators and how to make a career out of it.
Also known as a forensic investigator, forensic scientist, or crime scene investigator, a forensic detective applies their specialized science knowledge in an investigatory manner. An example would be collecting and analysing physical evidence at a crime scene. A forensic detective uses scientific evidence to prove what happened and have it stand up to extreme scrutiny (such as in a court). Forensic detectives typically hold at least one science degree and often a masters or higher. Learn more about forensic detectives, the growing field of computer forensics, and how to become a forensic investigator.
When a murder is committed and the perpetrator is at large, it falls on a homicide detective to figure out what happened. They are a crucial member of the law enforcement profession. When not actively at the scene of a crime, homicide detectives review case files to look for clues or leads. Homicide detectives can also solve cold cases – tough mysteries that have gone cold and essentially been give up on. Homicide detectives are experienced and will almost always have many years on the force as a regular police officer. Read more about becoming a homicide detective to see what it takes.
How do the salary ranges compare?
For the most part detective jobs provide a good living. The average detective salary in the US is $41,000. Like most careers, your salary correlates strongly with education, experience, and to a lesser extent, performance. Private investigators run from low to high income because as private businesses, some do very well while others might struggle (especially as they establish themselves).