How to Become A Police Detective

The primary job of a police detective is to collect facts and evidence in order to solve crimes. Officers working in this branch of law enforcement are required to monitor activities of suspects, interview witnesses and conduct raids and arrests. A Police detective career is an ideal choice for individuals who are interested in analytical jobs and have an inclination towards fact-finding and problem solving.

How to Become a Police Detective?

If you want to become a police detective you must first become a police officer and complete the number of requisite years before you can apply for detective. Police officers begin their training in the academy which lasts for several months and combines aspects of academic instruction, physical training, firearms training and driving.

Once you graduate from the academy you will work as a patrol officer for a number of months after which you can apply for the position of detective. During this job you will build the necessary skill set that will allow you to perform efficiently as a police detective.  As a detective you will be accepted to stay calm in highly stressful and dangerous situations, interrogate suspects and have sound judgment.  A large part of your job as a detective will be administrative so you need to work on that aspect as well.

Academic Requirements

Apart from your stint as a police officer, a college degree will really enhance your chances of making it as a police detective.  Competition is tough for officers who want police detective jobs but a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice will surely put you in the right light amongst other applicants. In addition to a good education knowledge of a language other than English will also improve your chances.

Officers who want to make detective usually have to take a written exam which is followed by strength, agility, vision and hearing tests. Candidates might also have to pass a drug screening, lie detection and personality test.


Police officers who get selected as detectives have some good opportunities waiting for them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median police detective’s salary to be $74,300 and employment opportunities are expected to grow at the rate of seven percent from 2010 to 2020. The actual salary that a detective will get will depend on the level of ability, education and experience.

How long does it take to become a Police Detective?

Becoming a police detective requires intensive training and experience. You will first join the ranks as a police officer, after which you would have to be promoted to become a police detective. Most police departments in the country require officers to have at least four to five years of experience and pass a written exam before they can become a police detective. Some police departments might also require you to complete a certain number of credit hours of college education.

What are the requirements to become a Police Detective?

Police detectives are required to have at least a high school diploma or a GED. Some federal level positions might also require you to have a four year long bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. The ideal degree fields for police detectives can be criminology, human service, psychology and criminal justice. In addition to the education requirements, you will also need to meet minimum eligibility criteria defined by the department you are applying to.

How much can I make with as a Police Detective?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Detectives made an annual median income of $63,380 per year in 2018. The number of jobs in this category as of 2016 was 807,000, with growth expected to be at 7%.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:While searching for prerequisites of police detective careers, I came across a page about forensic scientist, could you tell me about that?

A:Forensic scientist plays a major role in investigative crime. It is a very exciting field of work requiring an eye for detail and just as diverse too. So choosing a specific field in forensics before applying is necessary. Some of the areas in which you can specialization are forensic pathology, forensic dentistry, forensic psychology, forensic etymology, forensic analysis and forensic accounting. People interested in this field are encouraged to start preparing for this career choice from their college years by taking various science courses.

Q:What kind of training is required for police detective jobs?

A:If you are interested in becoming a police detective you need to first become a police officer and serve for a number of years in this position. This period can last from anywhere between six months to three years, after which you are eligible to apply for the position of a police detective. The training required for this position is what you learn on the job while serving as a police officer. However, the qualities you will be required to develop as a detective are staying calm under stressful and dangerous situations, interrogating techniques and a sound judgment.

Q:What courses does one have to take to become a police detective?

A:In order to become a police detective it is necessary that you already be a part of the law enforcement department. Serving as a police officer would probably be necessary, along with a college degree, this will greatly increase your chances of becoming a police detective. Remember that it's a very competitive field to apply to, but a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement could definitely give you an edge over others. Another thing that could greatly increase your chances is fluency in languages other than English.

Q:Can you give me information on how to become a police detective?

A:To pursue a career as a police detective you need to have a suitable aptitude. Mostly police detectives start off as a patrol officer or a police officer and gradually move up to the rank of a police detective. The work involves evidence gathering along with thorough investigations. Some states may require clearance of an exam to be a police detective. Other than that you need trainings that can familiarize you with the criminal justice, law and investigation procedures.

Q:I've completed a certificate in law enforcement; can I be a police detective?

A:A certificate in law enforcement will allow you entry level position as any of the following: Police and Detectives, who are charged with the responsibility to protect property and lives, their annual median pay was $56,980 (BLS 2012). However you can also look at a career into, Criminal Justice and law Enforcement teachers teach post secondary classes in law enforcement; their median annual pay was also $56,980.

Q:Can I take online police detective courses?

A:If you have completed a high school diploma or an equivalent GED qualification, are more than 21 years of age then you will qualify to do the police detective course online. This will allow you to join the police force training academy if you qualify. The online police detective course can be taken from the comfort of your own home.

Q:How to become a homicide detective?

A:Requirements for becoming a homicide detective vary from state to state. In most states individuals are required to work as a police officer first and complete the probation period. After gaining substantial work experience applicants may be eligible for promotion. Work experience can help one qualify for detective job positions in their police department. The most important part of becoming a detective is completing their agency's training program. Detectives will also receive on the job training. Aspirants must be U.S. citizens should be at least twenty one years old and must pass certain physical tests. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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