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What Degree Do I Need To Be A Police Detective

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Police Jobs : How to Become a Police Officer Without a Degree

Criminal justice is full of great careers, but one thing they almost universally have in common is that you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. It is also true for detectives. To make it as a criminal investigator, you need first to become a police officer. That means going through the entire law enforcement hiring process, attending the police academy, making it through field training, and getting off probation.

Detective jobs are either promotions or lateral transfers from within the police department. The individual requirements may vary from department to department, but since it is a specialty position, you can expect to have to serve as a police patrol officer for two or more years before you’re even eligible to be considered for a detective job.

How To Become A Police Officer

A career in the police force offers a healthy salary and plenty of opportunity for progression, but, equally, it regularly demands anti-social hours and is a potentially stressful profession.

As the Institute For Apprenticeships says:

‘Being a police constable * is a physically and intellectually demanding occupation, requiring high levels of emotional intelligence, strong behavioural interpretation skills , and an ability to analyse and resolve rapidly evolving events.

‘Police constables have a unique employment status, as every police constable is a warranted officer, making autonomous lawful decisions including taking away an individuals liberty if required.

‘Police constables exercise wide-ranging powers to maintain the peace and uphold the law across complex and diverse communities. They must justify and personally account for their actions through differing legal frameworks including courts, while also under the close scrutiny of the public’.

* ‘Police constable’ refers to a rank that virtually all police officers will start as. ‘Police officer’ refers to all ranks from police constable to chief constable of a county constabulary. With there being such a wide range of roles within the policing profession, there’s plenty of scope for career progression.

Skip ahead:

What does a police officer do?

As a police officer you’ll carry out a wide range of tasks, such as:

Find out more in our Police Officer job profile.

How to become a police officer

Criminal Justice As A Law Enforcement Degree

Similar to seeking a degree in Criminology, a degree in criminal justice can also be a helpful stepping stone to reach the next level in your career. Rather than trying to understand the motivations and behavior of criminals, criminal justice is a broader concentration which covers the multiple facets of this field.

It is another common degree among law enforcement professionals as students of criminal justice will develop a better understanding of courtroom procedures, criminal laws, and procedures, and increase their knowledge about the entire criminal process from arrest to incarceration. This degree is a solid choice for police officers looking to take on leadership roles.

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Certificate In Law Enforcement

A certificate in criminal justice or criminology is an opportunity for individuals to gain specific instruction in an area of law enforcement. Since a certificate consists of a few classes and can be completed in a few months, the certificate can also provide an opportunity to get started on an associate degree without having to commit to the two years just yet. Certificates are also great in that some department require applicants to have some college credits, but do not require a full degree. Some of the courses available in a criminology or criminal justice certificate program are listed below:


Pay Attention To Established Detectives

I want to be a police officer by Liebman, Dan ...

As a police officer, youll often work closely with police detectives, and if you want to be one of them, its wise to pay attention to what they do, Carlin says. Often, experience teaches detectives how to tactfully deliver bad news, communicate with firmness and sensitivity in tragic-but-timely investigations and read body language to successfully interrogate suspects.

Police officers are trained to perform all of the above skills, but police detectives have the benefit of years of experience to master them. Pay close attention to the way they operate when the opportunity presents itself.

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S To Becoming A Private Detective

The private investigation industry is regulated at the state level to ensure public interests are protected and that private detectives abide by all laws and regulations. Because each state determines licensing requirements, criteria vary. Commonly, candidates are required to be at least 18 years old, have a clean criminal record, meet training and educational requirements, clear a background check and pass a state licensing examination.

  • Member of an investigative service unit in a branch of the United States Armed Forces
  • Investigator at a federal investigative agency
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Licensed repossessor
  • Public defenders office investigator

Obtaining A Bachelors Degree In Law Enforcement

Honours bachelors degrees in law enforcement are most often earned in three to four years. Entrance requirements will vary by institution, but undergraduate programs typically require completion of high school or equivalent.

Regardless of where you take your police studies degree, youll be expected to attend lectures , work on projects, write essays, and possibly take tests, quizzes, or exams. Provided you complete these challenges at or above the institutions standards, youll be awarded your degree.

Remember: only licensed, fully-accredited universities can offer police studies degrees that your employer will recognize.

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How To Become A Police Officer In Toronto

The Toronto Police Service is an elite law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the people of Toronto. As the Canadian metropolitan area with the most police officers, Toronto has many career opportunities for aspiring and current police officers, but the hiring process can be competitive. A policing degree or a criminology degree can set candidates apart, lead to promotions, and open doors to a broad range of job opportunities.

Lauriers online Bachelor of Arts in Policing and online Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing develop analytical and critical thinking skills, foster key competencies required for leadership roles, and give public safety professionals an edge in their overall careers and salary potentialno matter where in Canada they may be studying from.

Who Would Make A Good Homicide Detective

Do You Need College To Be A Police Officer?

If you want to become a homicide detective, youll need to learn to wear a lot of different hats. Being a homicide detective requires a confluence of many different skills and traits. Are you empathetic and detail oriented? Love to do research and talk to people? Youd be good at being a homicide detective if youre a puzzle solver who also knows how to build a connection of trust with other people quickly. And, you must have some patience, both with the people in the field and with your career. You wont enter law enforcement as a detective right away.

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The Benefits Of A Career As A Police Officer

There are SO MANY benefits of a career as a police officer, where do we start?! Well, lets talk about the obvious, which is you have the opportunity to save lives and impact them in meaningful ways. In addition, theres never a dull day on the job as no two days are ever the same. Another benefit is that no other career, expect perhaps a career in the military, offers the same camaraderie among coworkers. And finally, youll feel tremendous satisfaction each day knowing you are protecting and serving your community.

What Should I Major In To Become A Police Officer

One of the noblest callings you can answer is that of protecting your community, and one of the most direct ways of doing that is by becoming a police officer. Those who aspire to work in the criminal justice field will find a variety of settings to explore, in addition to that of being a patrol officer, including security, forensic science, computer technology, and investigations.

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What Types Of Career Advancements Can A Bachelors Degree In Policing Lead To

Besides the knowledge that you gain, the skills youll develop can lead to many exciting career paths. The list below is a small sample of the careers Laurier police studies degree graduates have gone on to:

  • Chief of Police / Commissioner / Chief Constable
  • Deputy Chief of Police / Deputy Chief Constable
  • Staff Superintendent
  • Sergeant / Detective
  • Police Constable 1st Class / Detective Constable

In the curriculum guide, you’ll find:

  • Complete curriculum listings

How To Become A Police Detective: Your 6

16 best police cadet interview questions images on ...

By Brianna Flavin on 08/16/2018

Police detectives might make their job look easy, but theres more to it than the dusting for prints and intense interrogations of suspects found in crime dramas. Working in law enforcement can mean long hours and unsafe working conditions, but it also means helping people in need and bringing criminals to justice.

If detective work is what youre drawn to, youre likely wondering what exactly what you need to do to make your dream a reality. The first thing to know is that becoming a police detective starts with becoming a police officer. But if you want to take that next step in your careeror youre just curious about becoming a detectiveheres where to begin.

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Education Requirements For Criminal Investigators

Criminal investigators need at least a high school diploma, though some employers prefer to hire candidates with a degree in an area like criminal justice, forensic science, or a related field. Some degrees might offer criminal investigator internships, providing hands-on experience in the field.

CIs seeking specialized careers should look for degrees aligned with their interests and goals. For example, a CI who wants to investigate tax fraud benefits from earning a bachelors and masters degree in accounting or forensic accounting.

Duties & Tasks Of A Police Officer

Australian Federal Police Officers:

  • Investigate and prosecute offences committed against the Commonwealth in areas such as organised, corporate and computer crime environmental offences drug trafficking fraud counterfeiting and terrorism
  • Confiscate proceeds of crime when an offender is convicted
  • Carry out VIP and diplomatic protection duties as directed
  • Protect police witnesses and investigate the unlawful disclosure of government information and official corruption
  • Work in joint operations with state and territory police
  • Liaise with other police forces and crime prevention institutions to combat international crime
  • Contribute to United Nations activities such as peacekeeping and international aid programs
  • Undertake clerical and administrative duties.

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Earn A Bachelors Degree

While a bachelors degree in criminal justice is not required to become a police officer, it may help officers advance to higher positions in the force. To have those types of opportunities, it is important to combine skills gained from this type of degree program with comprehensive on-the-job training and experience.

Criminal justice degree programs allow students to examine crime as a social phenomenon by combining theoretical learning with field-based education. Additionally, some programs allow students to earn credits toward a bachelors degree for successfully completing police academy training. For example, Maryville Universitys online bachelors in criminal justice degree program allows students to get up to 12 credit hours for successfully completed police academy training through select academies.

Typical criminal justice coursework includes subjects such as Criminological Theory, Criminal Law and Procedure, and Multicultural Policing, which can help students approach detective work from a broad perspective.

Majoring In Criminal Justice

Police Recruitment – Do I really need a Degree in Policing?

For aspiring police officers who choose to pursue a bachelors degree, criminal justice often seems like the most obvious program of study. After all, your daily job duties include identifying and apprehending the perpetrators of crimes. It is important that you understand the infrastructure of the criminal justice system in its entirety. That system includes the operations of law enforcement departments like the one you intend on working for, the court systems that convict and sentence the accused and the correctional facilities where sentences are served. The core coursework of a criminal justice program often includes studies in criminal and constitutional law, criminal investigation and evidence procedures, corrections and rehabilitation in prisons and community settings and ethics and multicultural issues in criminal justice.

Just because criminal justice seems like a natural fit for a police officer doesnt mean its the best college major. In fact, since you will go through academy training anyway, theres an argument that a degree that equips you with a special skill set may be a better option.

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Most Common Colleges For Police Detective

Here are the most common colleges for a Police Detective career in the US based on their resumes. Advocates often get their degree in Miami Dade College, University of Phoenix, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York .

Miami Dade College

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York

El Paso

Acquire A Degree Or Academy Training

The requirements for this step will vary substantially depending on the state in which you plan on becoming a police officer. Some states do not require their officers to be college-educated, even if they may prefer it. Other states, like Minnesota, an Associates degree or equivalent training is one of the requirements to become a police officer.

Generally speaking, the training process for aspiring police officers follows two routes:

Since police officer requirements differ, youll want to be sure to check with the agency that sets the standards for law enforcement training and licensure in your area. Some also have arrangements for military reciprocity, allowing candidates who served in the military to follow a different process in acknowledgement of the training they already have.

Whichever path you take, your training will include classroom instruction in state and local laws, covering topics like constitutional law, civil rights and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, firearm use, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.

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Computer Science And Technology

Individuals interested in entering the field of computer science or forensics investigations need a degree in computer science or information technology. A bachelors or associates degree is required. The Federal Bureau of Investigations requires a bachelor’s degree for all forensic investigators. A degree in computer science is essential for private detectives.

Preparing For A Police Officer Career: Find The Right Environment

Good Reasons to Become a Police Officer

When an aspiring police officer chooses to go to school to obtain formal education, a world of possibilities opens up. Here are some of the potential places where the certificate or degree can be earned.

Vocational/Trade School

Some vocational or trade schools have certificate programs that may count towards college credit, such as for a future associate or bachelors degree. Some might offer associate degrees. Vocational or trade schools can provide a way to save money on college costs while receiving necessary college course instruction.


Military experience is well regarded by law enforcement agencies and police departments. Familiarity with firearms, mental toughness, physical conditioning, discipline and an understanding of command structure and culture are all benefits that come with hiring a recruit with military experience.

Community College

Community colleges provide multiple options for students who want to become police officers. Students can complete their associate degree in two years or a certificate in a few months. As an added bonus, many community colleges allow credits earned in a certificate program to go towards an associate degree.

Law Enforcement School

4-year schools

Departments that require a bachelors degree are often found at the federal level. However, even if a four-year degree isnt required, getting a bachelors degree can be a prudent decision: it can increase the chances of getting hired and promoted.

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Work Environment About This Section

Police and detectives held about 795,000 jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up police and detectives was distributed as follows:

Police and sheriffs patrol officers 671,200
Federal government 8

Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Officers must be alert and ready to react throughout their entire shift. Officers regularly work at crime and accident scenes and encounter suffering and the results of violence. Although a career in law enforcement may be stressful, many officers find it rewarding to help members of their communities.

Some federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Secret Service, require extensive travel, often on short notice. These agents may relocate a number of times over the course of their careers. Other agencies, such as U.S. Border Patrol, may require work outdoors in rugged terrain and in all kinds of weather.

Making A Name For Yourself

If, after becoming a police officer, your goal is to make detective, you want to spend your time on patrol making a name for yourself. Just like any other job, your work history matters here. While on patrol, you can develop a reputation as a hard worker, an independent problem solver, and a good investigator by properly, promptly and accurately handling those cases you’ll have the ability and resources to take care of on your own.

Your work product, and specifically your report writing skills, will become very important. Investigative reports are lengthy and extensive, and writing reports is a major part of a police detective’s job. If you don’t write well, take some report writing classes or a college-level English course to hone your skills.

Use the time you spend as a patrol officer to learn the ins and outs of police work, and take the opportunity to spend time with detectives to learn more about what they do and what kind of officers they’re looking for to add to their ranks. It will help better prepare you for the next step in your career.

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