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How To Become Police Detective

How to become police detective

How To Become Police Detective

So you’re interested in learning how to become a detective? Great! Lets go over some of the things that you will need to know in order to prepare.

What exactly do detectives do?

You may already have a general idea of what detectives do if you have watched a crime movie or television show. Put simply, detectives analyze information that is given to them in order to help solve criminal cases.

Types of Detectives:

  1. Police Detective
  2. Private Investigator
  3. FBI Detective

Each of these types of detectives vary in terms on requirements, qualifications, and the type of work they do.

How To Become Police Detective?

Education and Experience

In order to become a police detective, you must first become a patrol officer for as much as five years.  A police detective is promoted within the department. No police detective is ever hired from the outside. You need to have at least a high school diploma. However, it is highly recommended to have a college degree in order to compete with other candidates. Many police departments will require that you have a diploma in Criminal Justice, or  Criminology. It will also help if you are fluent in a second language.


Since you will first need to become a patrol officer, you will need to spend around 3 months in the police academy. There, you will learn the many aspects of police work. You will also become well versed in constitutional law,rights, state laws, and local laws.

How to Become a Detective After Police Work

Progressing your career from Patrol Cop to Detective will vary from department to department. You will likely need to be promoted to sergeant, then detective. You will have an increased chance of becoming a detective in more popular, urban areas.

Physical and Mental Requirements

You should maintain a good level of fitness in order to become a detective. You will also need to have the ability to stay focused and make quick decisions in dangerous situations.

Communication and people skills is also key when becoming a detective. You will need to know how to deal with people who are mentally unstable in certain situations.

How to Become Private Investigator ?

A private investigator is a type of detective that is not government related. They are often hired by private citizens, attorneys, and companies.

One of the more popular reasons people hire a P.I is to get evidence of adultery for grounds of divorce. This is one of the most common and highly profitable aspects of a P.I.

Many P.Is are hired for other reasons like serving subpoenas, and tracking down people who owe debt.

Becoming a Private Investigator


In order to become a private investigator, you will need to check with your state to see what type of licensing is required. This will vary between different states. You can also check to see if your state will allow you to carry a firearm.

Education Requirements

Technically, there are no education requirements to become a P.I. That said, many P.Is have law enforcement experience. Many owners of PI agencies will also have a college degree.

In order to be hired my a PI agency, you will likely need some investigative experience, or some other expertise that will help you get hired on.

How to Become FBI Agent

When the federal government needs someone to investigate something, they will go to the FBI. There are many statutes that an FBI investigator would be needed for, as well as issues concerning national security.

As an FBI detective, one will be expected to perform undercover assignments, surveillance, and some other forensic activities.

Some examples of the types of crime an FBI detective will investigate are drug trafficking, bribery, kidnapping, bank robbery, terrorism, and many other federal law violations.


You must have a bachelor’s degree, as well as 3 years minimum experience with a full-time job related to criminal justice.

You will be required to pass an extensive background test, pass physical/psychological exams, and oral and written exams.

The age requirement is 23-36 years old when it comes to joinng the FBI.

If you are accepted, you will need to complete a 20 week training course at the FBI academy. Read more about becoming an FBI agent here.