Life As a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent
Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Job Description Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.
Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Responsibilities
- Determine scope, timing, and direction of investigations.
- Collaborate with other offices and agencies to exchange information and coordinate activities.
- Record evidence and documents, using equipment such as cameras and photocopy machines.
- Manage security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information.
- Collaborate with other authorities on activities, such as surveillance, transcription, and research.
- Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.
Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Skills
These are the skills Criminal Investigators and Special Agents say are the most useful in their careers:
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.
Related Job Titles
- Child Support Agent
- Crime Analyst
- FBI Profiler (Federal Bureau of Investigation Profiler)
- Intelligence Officer
- Deputy United States Marshal
What Kind of Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Job Opportunities Are There?
There were about 110,900 jobs for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent in 2016 (in the United States). 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. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 7,500 job openings in this field each year.
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.
Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Average Salary
The salary for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents ranges between about $43,800 and $138,860 a year.
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents who work in District of Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.
Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents in different U.S. states.
|State||Annual Mean Salary|
|District of Columbia||$122,460|
What Tools & Technology 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 do I Become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent?
Are there Criminal Investigators and Special Agents education requirements?
How many years of work experience do I need?
Where Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Work
The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.
Those interested in being a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent may also be interested in:
More about our data sources and methodologies.
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