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Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

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What Does it Take to Be a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent?

Job Description & Duties Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.

Life As a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent: What Do They Do?

  • Perform undercover assignments and maintain surveillance, including monitoring authorized wiretaps.
  • Record evidence and documents, using equipment such as cameras and photocopy machines.
  • Issue security clearances.
  • Obtain and verify evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.
  • Provide protection for individuals, such as government leaders, political candidates, and visiting foreign dignitaries.
  • Administer counterterrorism and counternarcotics reward programs.

What Every Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Should Know

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

  • Criminal Investigative Agent
  • Major Case Detective
  • FBI Sharpshooter (Federal Bureau of Investigation Sharpshooter)
  • Police Detective
  • Gang Investigator

What Kind of Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Job Opportunities Are There?

In the United States, there were 110,900 jobs for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 4.5% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 5,000 new jobs for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent by 2026. There will be an estimated 7,500 positions for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent per year.

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The states with the most job growth for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent are Nevada, Utah, and Arkansas. Watch out if you plan on working in New Jersey, Maryland, or Wyoming. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What is the Average Salary of a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

The salary for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents ranges between about $43,800 and $138,860 a year.

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Criminal Investigators and Special Agents who work in District of Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.

How much do Criminal Investigators and Special Agents make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $64,750
Alaska $118,360
Arizona $81,810
Arkansas $60,340
California $107,120
Colorado $87,280
Connecticut $90,470
Delaware $89,930
District of Columbia $122,460
Florida $76,560
Georgia $66,430
Hawaii $107,010
Idaho $73,510
Illinois $87,470
Indiana $75,150
Iowa $73,320
Kansas $62,260
Kentucky $71,300
Louisiana $65,090
Maine $70,620
Maryland $102,370
Massachusetts $101,800
Michigan $86,580
Minnesota $76,640
Mississippi $64,150
Missouri $70,860
Montana $81,210
Nebraska $73,480
Nevada $87,680
New Hampshire $80,370
New Jersey $102,600
New Mexico $77,890
New York $91,250
North Carolina $60,810
North Dakota $84,340
Ohio $75,310
Oklahoma $66,130
Oregon $93,840
Pennsylvania $85,730
Rhode Island $86,580
South Carolina $60,420
South Dakota $72,050
Tennessee $71,940
Texas $79,950
Utah $80,840
Vermont $83,060
Virginia $98,850
Washington $85,440
West Virginia $86,340
Wisconsin $76,590
Wyoming $81,750

What Tools do Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Criminal Investigators and Special Agents:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Graphics software
  • ESRI ArcView
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • National Crime Information Center NCIC database
  • Law enforcement information databases
  • Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS
  • National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN
  • Crime mapping software
  • Computer aided composite drawing software
  • Case management software

How to Become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Individuals working as a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent have obtained the following education levels:

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What work experience do I need to become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent?

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Who Employs Criminal Investigators and Special Agents?

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Criminal Investigators and Special Agents work in the following industries:

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References:

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