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Detectives spend much of their time interviewing suspects and witnesses, collecting evidence and testifying in court. They also arrest criminals and fugitives. The work can be dangerous. Detectives must file reports of their activities, which means they have many hours of paperwork.

Working Conditions

Detectives usually work a forty-hour week, but overtime is common.



Salaries range from lower than $28,000 to over $80,000 a year. Salaries tend to be higher with Federal agencies.


Helpful Skills and Subjects to Study

Personal characteristics such as honesty, judgment, integrity and a sense of responsibility are important in law enforcement. Physical education, English, foreign languages and law are helpful courses to take in school.


Related Jobs

Police and detectives maintain law and order. Workers in related occupations include correctional officers, guards and fire marshals.


Education & Training

Police officers can be promoted to detective after a probationary period lasting from six months to three years. A high school diploma and one to four years of college is usually required to be hired as a police officer. In addition to written exams, there are psychological and physical requirements. Candidates usually attend a police academy when eligible.


Job Outlook

There will continue to be competition for the higher paying jobs with State and Federal agencies and police departments in more affluent areas. Opportunities will be best in urban areas where salaries are lower and the crime rate is high.


Sources for Additional Information

Contact your local police department for more information about opportunities in your community.

U.S. Secret Service
Personnel Division, Room 912
1800 G St. NW.
Washington, DC 20223