Police and detectives are protective services agents who work to enforce laws, respond to calls for help, and monitor the safety of communities and property. Detectives work more extensively researching and investigating crimes and preparing cases for court. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), common duties for a police and detective job description include:
- Patrol assigned areas and enforce laws.
- Arrest suspects when necessary.
- Collect evidence at crime scenes.
- Write up reports, complete forms, and prepare cases for court.
Uniformed officers typically patrol their assigned areas, citing citizens for traffic or other violations, responding to calls, and other routine operations. However, detectives are more involved in criminal investigations. They may even testify in court for these criminal cases.
Job Growth for
Police Officer and Detective
|District of Columbia||4,150||$68,040||$33|
Becoming a Police Officer or Detective
In order to pursue careers in police and detective work you will need to complete a police academy training program and on-the-job training. In terms of education, usually only a high school diploma or GED is required for field officers, though a college degree in criminal justice or a related area may serve useful for advancement down the road. Most police departments will require trainees be at least 21 years old and in good physical condition.
College degrees in criminal justice and law enforcement are available through many colleges at the certificate, associate, and bachelor's level. In addition, those interested in pursuing careers in upper level administration in this field may go on to a graduate program. Below are a few common subjects, criminal justice majors can expect to learn about:
- Law and Society
- The Criminal Court System
Students may opt to complete this type of curriculum before or after entering the police academy. In addition, police officers and detectives will need to be U.S. citizens and pass vision, hearing, strength, and agility exams. Background checks, interviews with lie detector tests, and drug testing may also be required.