Detectives and Criminal Investigators
33-3021.00

Conduct investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.

Sample of reported job titles: Crime Scene Investigator (CSI), Criminal Investigator, Detective, Fugitive Detective, Fugitive Investigator, Investigator, Narcotics Detective, Narcotics Investigator, Police Detective, Special Agent

Also see: Police Identification and Records Officers, Intelligence Analysts

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Check victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.
  • Obtain facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and record interviews, using recording device.
  • Secure deceased body and obtain evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.
  • Record progress of investigation, maintain informational files on suspects, and submit reports to commanding officer or magistrate to authorize warrants.
  • Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.
  • Prepare charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases, according to formalized procedures.
  • Preserve, process, and analyze items of evidence obtained from crime scenes and suspects, placing them in proper containers and destroying evidence no longer needed.
  • Obtain summary of incident from officer in charge at crime scene, taking care to avoid disturbing evidence.
  • Note, mark, and photograph location of objects found, such as footprints, tire tracks, bullets and bloodstains, and take measurements of the scene.
  • Examine records and governmental agency files to find identifying data about suspects.
  • Secure persons at scene, keeping witnesses from conversing or leaving the scene before investigators arrive.
  • Provide information to lab personnel concerning the source of an item of evidence and tests to be performed.
  • Analyze completed police reports to determine what additional information and investigative work is needed.
  • Examine records to locate links in chains of evidence or information.
  • Search for and collect evidence, such as fingerprints, using investigative equipment.
  • Prepare and serve search and arrest warrants.
  • Question individuals or observe persons and establishments to confirm information given to patrol officers.
  • Determine scope, timing, and direction of investigations.
  • Obtain and verify evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.
  • Participate or assist in raids and arrests.
  • Organize scene search, assigning specific tasks and areas of search to individual officers and obtaining adequate lighting as necessary.
  • Summon medical help for injured individuals and alert medical personnel to take statements from them.
  • Notify command of situation and request assistance.
  • Block or rope off scene and check perimeter to ensure that entire scene is secured.
  • Identify case issues and evidence needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.
  • Notify, or request notification of, medical examiner or district attorney representative.
  • Collaborate with other offices and agencies to exchange information and coordinate activities.
  • Maintain surveillance of establishments to obtain identifying information on suspects.
  • Testify before grand juries concerning criminal activity investigations.
  • Perform undercover assignments and maintain surveillance, including monitoring authorized wiretaps.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology
Hot Technologies are requirements most frequently included across all employer job postings.
In demand
In Demand skills are frequently included in employer job postings for this occupation.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Communicating with People Outside the 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.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • 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.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • 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.
  • Monitoring 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.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • 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.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • 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 materials.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Telephone — 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With External Customers — 87% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Electronic Mail — 91% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others — 83% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 84% responded “Every day.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 75% responded “Every day.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 70% responded “Very important results.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 73% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 68% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 75% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 71% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 64% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 63% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Consequence of Error — 68% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 49% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 43% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 42% responded “Every day.”
  • Letters and Memos — 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 47% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 52% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 36% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Time Pressure — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 35% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 31% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 52% responded “About half the time.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 33% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 28% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 36% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Level of Competition — 33% responded “Moderately competitive.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 32% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 27% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections — 30% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 37% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Outdoors, Under Cover — 29% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 32% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

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 hydroelectric production managers, desktop publishers, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters and simultaneous captioners, and medical assistants.
SVP Range
1-2 years of preparation (6.0 to < 7.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.

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Knowledge

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
  • 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.
  • Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 32%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 20%
     
    responded: Post-secondary certificate required
  • 20%
     
    responded: Associate’s degree required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • 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.
  • 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 that there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • 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).
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • 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).
  • 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.

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Interests

Interest code: EIC
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • 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.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

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Work Values

  • 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.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

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Work Styles

  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • 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.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • 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.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • 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.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • 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.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$40.21 hourly, $83,640 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2021)
112,900 employees
Projected growth (2021-2031)
Little or no change
Projected job openings (2021-2031)
8,800
State trends
Top industries (2021)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2021-2031 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2021-2031). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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