Criminal Investigator Career Field

criminal investigatorCareer Overview

Criminal investigators are also called detectives. Their main duties include collecting information and evidence used in criminal cases. They can also be put on task forces assigned to combat specific kinds of crime like money laundering or drug trafficking. Criminal investigators can conduct interviews, research records, observe suspects, and participate in arrests. They usually specialize in the investigation of one type of law breaking like fraud or murder. Cases will be assigned to criminal investigators/detectives on a rotating basis. They will usually work on the same case until someone is arrested, a conviction is made, or the case is dropped.

Education Requirements

1 to 2 years of college coursework
Graduation from Police Academy
For Federal Law Enforcement Position-A Bachelor’s degree

The educational requirements for becoming a criminal investigator vary by location and law enforcement department being worked for. On the state and local level, detectives must have at least a high school diploma, some law enforcement  experience, and preferably a bachelor’s degree or some college experience, 1 to 2 years. On the federal level, law enforcement officers/detectives for the FBI must have a bachelor’s degree, at least 3 years of work experience, and be a United States Citizen. Many criminal investigators start out in the lower ranks of law enforcement and eventually work their way up into detective positions.


Constitutional Law
Civil Rights
State Laws and Ordinances
Federal Laws
Crime Scene Investigations
Suspect Interviewing
Fire Arms
First Aid
Emergency Response

Licensing Requirements

Criminal investigators must have the appropriate weapons license if they carry a fire arm.

Employment Trends

Job Availability as of May 2008: 112,200
Projected Employment in 2018: 130,900
Average Annual Salary for Criminal Investigators in U.S. in 2008: $60,910

Top Colleges

Strayer University
DeVry University
Fortis College
DeVry University
Kaplan University

Related Jobs

Correctional officers
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
Fire fighters
Private detectives and investigators
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

Article Reference: Bureau of Labor Statistics


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