Summary Report for:
33-3021.03 - Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.
Sample of reported job titles: Agent, Criminal Investigator, Detective, Detective Sergeant, FBI Special Agent (Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent), Investigator, Master Police Detective, Narcotics Detective, Police Detective, Special Agent
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
- Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.
- Obtain and verify evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.
- Identify case issues and evidence needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.
- Investigate organized crime, public corruption, financial crime, copyright infringement, civil rights violations, bank robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and other violations of federal or state statutes.
- Record evidence and documents, using equipment such as cameras and photocopy machines.
- Obtain and use search and arrest warrants.
- Testify before grand juries concerning criminal activity investigations.
- Search for and collect evidence, such as fingerprints, using investigative equipment.
- Determine scope, timing, and direction of investigations.
- Collect and record physical information about arrested suspects, including fingerprints, height and weight measurements, and photographs.
- Analyze evidence in laboratories or in the field.
- Collaborate with other offices and agencies to exchange information and coordinate activities.
- Develop relationships with informants to obtain information related to cases.
- Perform undercover assignments and maintain surveillance, including monitoring authorized wiretaps.
- Collaborate with other authorities on activities such as surveillance, transcription, and research.
- Examine records to locate links in chains of evidence or information.
- Serve subpoenas or other official papers.
- Compare crime scene fingerprints with those from suspects or fingerprint files to identify perpetrators, using computers.
- Manage security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information.
- Provide protection for individuals, such as government leaders, political candidates, and visiting foreign dignitaries.
- Administer counterterrorism and counternarcotics reward programs.
- Issue security clearances.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Biological evidence collection kits — Blood collection kits
- Body armour — Body armor
- Bullet proof vests — Bulletproof vests
- Desktop computers
- Digital camcorders or video cameras — Digital video cameras
- Digital cameras
- Fingerprint equipment — Suspect fingerprinting equipment
- Fingerprint latent print kits — Fingerprint evidence kits
- Footprint lifters — Impression casting kits
- Hand sprayers — Pepper spray
- Handcuffs — Metal handcuffs; Plastic handcuffs
- Handguns — Semiautomatic pistols; Service revolvers
- Hazardous material protective apparel — Biohazard suits
- Instant print cameras
- Masks or accessories — Filter masks
- Measuring wheels for distance — Distance measuring wheels
- Metal detectors
- Narcotic test kits — Drug testing kits
- Night sticks — Nightsticks
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers; Mobile data computers
- Personal computers
- Physiological recorders — Polygraphs
- Police or security shotguns — Police shotguns
- Police vehicles — Police patrol cars
- Protective gloves
- Riot shields
- Rulers — Crime scene rulers
- Still cameras — 35 millimeter cameras
- Surveillance video or audio recorders — Audio recording equipment; Digital voice recorders; Wiretap equipment
- Tape measures — Crime scene tape measures
- Two way radios
- Ultraviolet UV lamps — Ultraviolet UV lights
- Weapon or explosives detectors and supplies — Explosive detectors
Technology used in this occupation:
- Data base user interface and query software — Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS; Law enforcement information databases; National Crime Information Center NCIC database; National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN (see all 5 examples)
- Electronic mail software — Email software; Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Computer aided composite drawing software; Graphics software
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Map creation software — Crime mapping software; ESRI ArcView
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Project management software — Case management software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Corel WordPerfect software; Microsoft Word
- 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.
- 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.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- 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.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- 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.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- 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).
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- 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.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- 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).
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- 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.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- 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.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- 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 and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- 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.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Prepare investigation or incident reports.
- Maintain surveillance of individuals or establishments.
- Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.
- Analyze crime scene evidence.
- Examine crime scenes to obtain evidence.
- 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.
- Determine operational procedures.
- Record information about suspects or criminals.
- Provide security escorts for officials, jury members, or other individuals.
- Investigate accidents to determine causes.
- Investigate illegal or suspicious activities.
- Interview people to gather information about criminal activities.
- Serve court ordered documents.
- Issue permits or other legal documents.
- Collaborate with law enforcement or security agencies to share information.
- Collaborate with outside groups to develop programs or projects.
- Direct law enforcement activities.
- Direct security operations.
- Telephone — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 76% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Electronic Mail — 80% responded “Every day.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 75% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 74% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 61% responded “Very important results.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 62% responded “Extremely important.”
- Deal With External Customers — 66% responded “Extremely important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 73% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 56% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 59% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 61% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 50% responded “Very important.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 43% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 59% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 56% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 42% responded “Extremely important.”
- Physical Proximity — 41% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Letters and Memos — 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 39% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 37% responded “Every day.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 32% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Time Pressure — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 37% responded “More than half the time.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 32% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 27% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
|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|
|42||High school diploma or equivalent|
|24||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.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- 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.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- 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 (2014)||117,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Little or no change (-1% to 1%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||28,300|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "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, 2016-17 Edition.