Summary Report for:
33-3021.01 - Police Detectives
Conduct investigations to prevent crimes or solve criminal cases.
Sample of reported job titles: Detective, Detective Sergeant, Detective Supervisor, Fugitive Detective, Fugitive Investigator, Investigator, Narcotics Detective, Narcotics Investigator, Police Detective, Sex Crimes Detective
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Provide testimony as a witness in court.
- Secure deceased body and obtain evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.
- Examine crime scenes to obtain clues and evidence, such as loose hairs, fibers, clothing, or weapons.
- Obtain evidence from suspects.
- Record progress of investigation, maintain informational files on suspects, and submit reports to commanding officer or magistrate to authorize warrants.
- Check victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.
- Prepare charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases, according to formalized procedures.
- Obtain facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and record interviews, using recording device.
- Prepare and serve search and arrest warrants.
- Note, mark, and photograph location of objects found, such as footprints, tire tracks, bullets and bloodstains, and take measurements of the scene.
- Preserve, process, and analyze items of evidence obtained from crime scenes and suspects, placing them in proper containers and destroying evidence no longer needed.
- Question individuals or observe persons and establishments to confirm information given to patrol officers.
- Secure persons at scene, keeping witnesses from conversing or leaving the scene before investigators arrive.
- Take photographs from all angles of relevant parts of a crime scene, including entrance and exit routes and streets and intersections.
- Analyze completed police reports to determine what additional information and investigative work is needed.
- Obtain summary of incident from officer in charge at crime scene, taking care to avoid disturbing evidence.
- Provide information to lab personnel concerning the source of an item of evidence and tests to be performed.
- Examine records and governmental agency files to find identifying data about suspects.
- Block or rope off scene and check perimeter to ensure that entire scene is secured.
- Summon medical help for injured individuals and alert medical personnel to take statements from them.
- Observe and photograph narcotic purchase transactions to compile evidence and protect undercover investigators.
- Organize scene search, assigning specific tasks and areas of search to individual officers and obtaining adequate lighting as necessary.
- Participate or assist in raids and arrests.
- Coordinate with outside agencies and serve on interagency task forces to combat specific types of crime.
- Note relevant details upon arrival at scene, such as time of day and weather conditions.
- Maintain surveillance of establishments to obtain identifying information on suspects.
- Notify command of situation and request assistance.
- Videotape scenes where possible, including collection of evidence, examination of victim at scene, and defendants and witnesses.
- Notify, or request notification of, medical examiner or district attorney representative.
- Monitor conditions of victims who are unconscious so that arrangements can be made to take statements if consciousness is regained.
- Schedule polygraph tests for consenting parties and record results of test interpretations for presentation with findings.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Alcohol analysers — Breathalyzers
- Automated external defibrillators AED or hard paddles — Automated external defibrillators AED
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Compound light microscopes
- Biological evidence collection kits — Blood collection kits; Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA collection kits
- Bullet proof vests — Bulletproof vests
- Desktop computers
- Dictation machines — Voice dictation equipment
- Digital camcorders or video cameras — Digital video cameras
- Digital cameras
- Emergency medical services first aid kits — First aid kits
- Fingerprint equipment — Suspect fingerprinting equipment
- Fingerprint latent print kits — Fingerprint evidence kits
- Flares — Road flares
- Footprint lifters — Electrostatic dust lifters; Impression casting kits
- Footwear covers — Footwear protectors
- Gas generators — Power generators
- Goggles — Safety goggles
- Hand sprayers — Pepper spray
- Handcuffs — Metal handcuffs; Plastic handcuffs
- Handguns — Semiautomatic pistols; Service revolvers
- Hazardous material protective apparel — Biohazard suits
- Infrared lamps — Infrared light sources
- Lasers — Laser light sources
- Masks or accessories — Filter masks
- Measuring wheels for distance — Distance measuring wheels
- Metal detectors
- Military rifles — Police rifles
- Narcotic test kits — Drug testing kits
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers; Mobile data computers
- Personal computers
- Physiological recorders — Polygraphs; Voice stress analyzers
- Police vehicles — Police patrol cars
- Protective gloves
- Radarbased surveillance systems — Radar speed readers
- Riot batons — Side-handle batons
- Riot helmets
- Riot shields
- Rulers — Crime scene rulers
- Still cameras — 35 millimeter cameras
- Surveillance video or audio recorders — Audio recording equipment; Digital tape recorders
- Two way radios
- Ultraviolet UV lamps — Ultraviolet UV lights
Technology used in this occupation:
- Charting software — Microsoft Office Visio
- Data base user interface and query software — DataWorks Plus Digital CrimeScene; Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS; National Crime Information Center NCIC database; National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN * (see all 6 examples)
- Desktop publishing software — Microsoft Publisher
- Graphics or photo imaging software — DeChant Consulting Services iWitness; DesignWare 3D EyeWitness; Digital Image Management Solutions Crime Scene; The CAD Zone The Crime Zone (see all 10 examples)
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Map creation software — Crime mapping software; Geographic information system GIS software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Corel WordPerfect software; Microsoft Word
* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
- Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
- Personnel and Human Resources — Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- 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.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Detailed Work Activities
- Request emergency personnel.
- Prepare investigation or incident reports.
- Document legal or regulatory information.
- Maintain surveillance of individuals or establishments.
- Process forensic or legal evidence in accordance with procedures.
- Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.
- Examine crime scenes to obtain evidence.
- Analyze crime scene evidence.
- Communicate situation details to appropriate personnel.
- Observe individuals' activities to gather information or compile evidence.
- Record crime or accident scene evidence with video or still cameras.
- Examine records or other types of data to investigate criminal activities.
- Use databases to locate investigation details or other information.
- Prevent unauthorized individuals from entering restricted areas.
- Apprehend criminal suspects.
- Detain suspects or witnesses.
- Record information about suspects or criminals.
- Interview people to gather information about criminal activities.
- Check physical condition of people or animals.
- Direct criminal investigations.
- Serve court ordered documents.
- Block physical access to restricted areas.
- Collaborate with law enforcement or security agencies to share information.
- Record information about environmental conditions.
- Collaborate with outside groups to develop programs or projects.
- Telephone — 97% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 87% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 83% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 79% responded “Very important results.”
- Deal With External Customers — 80% responded “Extremely important.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 79% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 72% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 75% responded “Extremely important.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 71% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 70% responded “Extremely important.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 61% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 49% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Consequence of Error — 73% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 50% responded “Extremely important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 70% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Electronic Mail — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 47% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 46% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 42% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 44% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 38% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Time Pressure — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 40% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 31% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 37% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 32% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 43% responded “More than half the time.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 25% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 33% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 37% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 27% responded “Never.”
- Level of Competition — 31% responded “Moderately competitive.”
|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, occupational therapy assistants, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|45||High school diploma or equivalent|
|16||Some college, no degree|
Interest code: EI
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wages data collected from Detectives and Criminal Investigators.
Employment data collected from Detectives and Criminal Investigators.
Industry data collected from Detectives and Criminal Investigators.
|Median wages (2014)||$38.40 hourly, $79,870 annual|
|Employment (2012)||115,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Little or no change (-2% to 2%)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||27,700|
|Top industries (2012)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Police and Detectives . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.