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What Do Police Detective Do?

Police Detective Job Description Conduct investigations to prevent crimes or solve criminal cases.

A Day in the Life of a Police Detective

  • Note relevant details upon arrival at scene, such as time of day and weather conditions.
  • Secure persons at scene, keeping witnesses from conversing or leaving the scene before investigators arrive.
  • Organize scene search, assigning specific tasks and areas of search to individual officers and obtaining adequate lighting as necessary.
  • Examine crime scenes to obtain clues and evidence, such as loose hairs, fibers, clothing, or weapons.
  • Summon medical help for injured individuals and alert medical personnel to take statements from them.
  • Obtain facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and record interviews, using recording device.

What Every Police Detective Should Know

Police Detectives state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

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

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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

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

  • Crime Scene Cleanup Supervisor
  • Police Detective
  • Narcotics Detective
  • Fugitive Detective
  • Sheriff’s Detective

Job Outlook for Police Detectives

There were about 110,900 jobs for Police Detective 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 Police Detective by 2026. There will be an estimated 7,500 positions for Police Detective per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Police Detectives in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Police Detective 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.

How Much Does a Police Detective Make?

The salary for Police Detectives ranges between about $43,800 and $138,860 a year.

Salary Ranges for Police Detectives

Police Detectives who work in District of Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Police Detectives in different U.S. states.

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 & Technology do Police Detectives Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Police Detectives:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Microsoft Visio
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • National Crime Information Center NCIC database
  • Law enforcement information databases
  • Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS
  • National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN
  • SmartDraw.com SmartDraw Legal
  • The CAD Zone The Crime Zone
  • DesignWare 3D EyeWitness
  • Crime mapping software

How to Become a Police Detective

What kind of Police Detective requirements are there?

Police Detective Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Police Detective Work Experience

Where Police Detectives Are Employed

Police Detective Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Police Detective Industries

References:

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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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