What Do Detectives and Criminal Investigators Do?
Within the public and private sectors, the role of detectives and criminal investigators is fundamental in the field of protective services. They are a leading force in investigations ranging from insurance fraud and other financial misappropriation to violent crimes. Generally, their primary responsibilities include gathering, collating, and reporting information on organizations and individuals to the proper officials, and identifying unlawful activity.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators Skills and Abilities
Oral and written communication skills are integral to the job. Due to the amount of information gathering you will be doing to establish a case, the ability to interview and interact with people and record data that is received is an essential skill. Technical expertise with related equipment, including recording devices and computers, will be required within the performance of your daily job.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators Duties
Specific duties of detectives and criminal investigators can vary widely dependent on the case. It is important to have a keen sense for paying attention to details in your documentation and observation duties. These could include:
- Observing individuals’ activities for the purpose of compiling evidence
- Preparing incident or investigation reports
- Interviewing people to obtain information about relevant actions or individuals
- Apprehending criminal suspects
- Recording evidence through still or video cameras
- Testifying at legislative or legal proceedings
- Utilizing databases for the purpose of investigation
Detectives and Criminal Investigators Tools and Technology
Careers in protective services require the use of a diverse array of equipment. A major tool you will use is a recording device. From audio to video equipment, including digital video and compact cameras, items will be used to document evidence in civil and criminal cases. In addition, strong computer skills will be necessary to document, gather, and file information. Software proficiency in data entry, computer imagery, Web browsing and LexisNexis for search and information retrieval is essential.
Education and Training for Detectives and Criminal Investigators
At a minimum, a high school diploma is needed for a job as a detective or criminal investigator. The proportion of individuals aged 25-44 in the field with this level of education is only 10.9%, though, so it is recommended to pursue a bachelor’s degree for successful employment. As per the latest statistics, 37% of detectives and criminal investigators active in this field at the above age range have a bachelor’s degree. The typical areas of study are as follows:
- Criminal Justice/Police Science
- Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism
- Protective Services Operations
- Fraud Evaluation and Financial Forensics
- Cultural/Archeological Resources Protection
- Maritime Law Enforcement
- Law Enforcement Record-Keeping and Evidence Management
Detectives and Criminal Investigators Salary
A median yearly salary in this field in the United States is $44,600, which corresponds to more than $21.00 per hour. Although, the potential to make much more, even in excess of double that income, is available as you progress in your career. This annual rate has exceeded $85,000 across the country and up to $93,500 in California.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators Jobs by Geography
Larger states with a multitude of busy urban centers have the highest demand for workers in the field, generally because crime rates are higher in these areas. California and New York are in the top tier, and they continue on an upward trend. Other populous states like Pennsylvania and Florida have many opportunities for those seeking careers as detectives and criminal investigators. Certainly, smaller states need these workers as well, but the job rates will always be fewer statistically. Typically, salaries will rise as the size and population of the city you are covering increases. These facts should be taken under careful consideration as you choose the location of your job in the protective services industry.