Detectives are also known as investigators. A detective’s job generally includes talking to witnesses and suspects, going over records of a case, collecting and documenting evidence, observing suspects, writing reports, securing crime scenes, and sometimes, making arrests.
Detective work is nothing like the media often portray. In truth, it takes a patient and rigorous person with strict ethics to become a detective. Detectives are almost always exposed to potentially dangerous people and situations.
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Being a detective should be born out of passion or a sort of personal convention. This way, you can feel that deep sense of satisfaction and achievement in solving a case, despite the profession’s challenges.
What Are the Skills You Need to Become a Detective?
A detective should have specific vital skills, as stipulated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S. Dec. 2019);
- Communication skills
What Certification or Licensure Requirements Do You Need?
As a police officer aspiring to become a detective, you need a law enforcement certification from your state.
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How Long Does It Take to Become a Detective?
It takes about six months of training to become a police officer. However, you need to have about four to five years of experience as an officer to make a promotional exam to become a detective.
Steps to Take to Become a Detective
Generally, to become a detective, you need a steady combination of academic instruction and on-the-job investigative experience.
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However, here are some possible steps to take, to become a detective:
Graduate from High School
After high school, you can seek out volunteer opportunities through your local police departments, civic organizations, or federal agencies. This will help you get hands-on training in the field.
Get a degree in criminal justice, criminology, sociology, or a related discipline.
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This will take two to four years. To have a higher chance of getting into most police academies, you need a college degree.
Enroll in a Police Academy
As a prospective detective, it is best to get into a police academy. This way, you get to have investigative experience. It will take one to three years.
What Do You Need to Get into a Police Academy?
Although it is not the same in every department and region, to qualify for a police academy, you need to;
- Be a citizen of the U.S., and 18 years old at least.
- Have a driver’s license;
- Have no felony convictions
- Have some college experience.
Please note; to qualify for state and federal agencies, you need at least four years of undergraduate education.
Police academy programs last for about six to eight months. During this time, you will be specially trained to use firearms. You will learn patrol procedures, self-defence, report-writing, ethics, C.P.R. and first aid, physical fitness, and emergency response.
After the academy, it’s advisable to take on advanced training and responsibilities in investigative units, for a better resume.
Take the Police Detective Test or Get Professionally Certified
Depending on your specialization, there are lots of certifications available for police detectives. Some of them include; The National Detective/Investigative Test (NDIT) – this test measures a police officer’s readiness to become a detective or investigator.
The Police Detective (PDET) – this test gauges a law enforcement professionals’ knowledge in police investigative procedures, laws related to police work, and how to complete reports.
The National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) will help you obtain the certified legal investigator (CLI) certification. And for investigators whose speciality is security, they can obtain e professional certified investigator (PCI) certification offered by ASIS International.
To Qualify for This, Candidates Must Have
- A high school diploma
- Five years of investigative experience (plus two years in case management).
It’s a 140-question exam that will test your knowledge in case management, investigative techniques & procedures, and case presentation.
Fulfill Local Credentialing Requirements
Depending on the state, the need to become a detective differ. As a result of this, the steps to join the state’s detective division may also vary.
Overall, some police departments will accept prospective detectives with only a high school diploma or G.E.D. Others, on the other hand, will take nothing short of some college courses or a two-four-year college degree.
Let’s take the Los Angeles Police Department Detective Bureau, for instance, and you need to have a high school diploma or G.E.D. Also, the first promotion available to those who have been trained as officers is either detective or sergeant.
However, you yo need to have 60 college credits or have served two years in the military to join the New York Police Department.
In Miami, Florida, you will need to earn a G.E.D. or high school diploma and pass a law enforcement exam (FBAT – Florida Basic Abilities Test).
In short, the requirements to become a detective depends mainly on the state. Each state’s needs vary. As an aspiring detective in any country, it’s best to reach out to your local government offices to inquire about eligibility.
How Can You Get a Job as a Detective?
The only way you can become a detective is you are currently working for a police department. And if you are looking for a new job as a detective, make inquiries on the requirements for a lateral transfer in other police departments. Most police departments will accept transfers only if you have a certain degree of recent working experience.
It may be easier to transfer within your state because you will already have the required certification for your country. You will probably need to complete some extra training and meet the state’s certification requirements to transfer to a police department in another state.
Ways to Learn More about Becoming a Detective?
A lot of police departments have information about their promotional ladder and promotional requirements published on their websites.
You can also meet up with detectives and talk to them about their daily challenges and responsibilities. This shouldn’t be a problem, as police are committed to community outreach.