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Career Profile: Police Detective

Why Is Police Work a Job of Tomorrow?
As the U.S. grows more security conscious, the demand for law enforcement officials increases. Spending on law enforcement is rising, a trend that is expected to continue as population density increases in cities and larger police department are needed to serve them. Employment opportunities for police detectives are expected to grow 11 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Police detectives make an average salary of $58,260 annually.

What Does a Police Detective Do?
Police detectives are typically not uniformed, instead acting as plainclothes investigators to blend in with the community and gather facts about particular crimes. Detectives find this information by conducting interviews, examining records, observing the suspect’s activities and taking part in raids and arrests. Detectives typically work on the cases to which they are assigned until the case is either solved or closed. In addition to these responsibilities, police detectives must also keep meticulous records of their work and findings in case the material must be presented in court.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Police Detective?
Police detectives must have at least a high school diploma, although an increasing number of police departments are beginning to require a college associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as well. The competition for employment is predicted to heighten in the coming years, so those with a degree are more likely to advance in the field than those without one. Many agencies will pay for their employees to earn a degree in criminal justice while they are employed. Criminal justice degree programs cover such topics as judicial processes and law history. An associate degree would take two years to earn, and a bachelor’s degree would take four years to earn. After completing the necessary education to apply for a law enforcement position, prospective police detectives must also undergo job-specific training at a police academy, which typically lasts 12 to 14 weeks.

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