How Long Does It Take To Become A Detective

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Do you want to become a detective? The amount of time it takes to become a detective depends on what agency you are working for and what the requirements are for each department. On this page we will help you understand how long it takes to become a detective by simply answering the question, ?How long does it take to become a detective?.?

If you’re wondering how long the process takes to become a detective, then here’s what you need to know. Being a detective is one of the most competitive jobs in law enforcement. About 90 percent of applicants never complete the process and many of those who do fail to pass the minimum requirements for the position. You must have physical strength, emotional stability and extraordinary problem-solving abilities to be a good detective. If you have these traits, this career could be for you. The road to becoming a detective starts with lifetime experience. A person must work up the police department ladder from patrol officer, to investigator and then lieutenant before he can even begin testing for a promotion to detective within his department. What steps must an individual go through before they are referred to as a “detective”?

What does it take to become a detective? The time it takes to become a detective is dependent on several factors, and can vary from region to region. Some regions have their own police force and some are part of the county or the state. Regardless of the area, it typically takes at least several years to become a detective, with more experienced detectives making more money.

How to Become A Police Officer How to Become A Cop

To advance in any career you need to have more education, experience, and qualifications than what people at the same level have. To do this, it takes a lot of time and hard work. A detective is usually a police officer who has been promoted to that post because of their exemplary skills in solving crimes.

But to get to that stage, they need to have already gone through the academy, completed the education requirements and then gotten promoted after gaining sufficient experience. A private detective is usually a detective who has resigned from the police force to work freelance or with an institution. Thus, it takes even longer for them. See how much time it takes for a person to become a detective.

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When someone watches a detective show on TV they immediately fall in love with the character. However, at we are more than just television enthusiasts, we’re here to teach you how to become one! Life as a detective is not all just glamorous and exciting; it has its fair share of frustrations. Most detectives work for many years before reaching the position of Detective. This is why it is important to be prepared for this job so you are not put off by the long hours and little pay.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Detective

What Do Detectives Do?

There is no doubting the fact that Hollywood has fictionalized the role of a detective. Harry Callahan and Samuel Gerard have epitomized the macho in a police detective while Jacques Clouseau has humanized, rather humorized the role of a detective. To set the record straight, the following is what police detectives do on routine basis.

  • Investigate crimes – Unlike police officers, detectives often specialize in investigating a particular type of crime. For example, there are detectives who only investigate fraud or homicide, etc.
  • Reactive rather than preemptive – Detectives begin their work once a crime is committed. Unlike police officers who patrol the streets and keep an eye on suspects to prevent a crime from happening, detectives gather evidence from a crime scene and investigate who could have committed the crime.
  • Individual v teamwork – A detective’s job makes him/her work with coroner or forensics investigators. He/she also interviews suspects and witnesses.
  • Court appearances – Detectives often testify in court.
  • Liaison – Detectives often serve as the go-between their department and other law enforcement bodies such as the FBI, etc.

How to Become a Detective?

Being a police officer is a prerequisite to becoming a detective. Selected police officers are promoted to detective and therefore all prospective police detectives must meet the requirements of becoming a police officer.

One of the first requirements to become a detective is to be a high school graduate. However, the more educated you are, the better chances you have of getting promoted as a detective. A college degree in criminal justice, criminal procedure, political science, forensic science, criminology, psychology and sociology could help you advance in your career as a police officer.

You may get hired as a police officer right after high school, but you will not be promoted to detective while still being very young. The age requirement will differ from state to state but it is safe to say that you must be at least 21 years of age to be considered for such job promotion.

While applying for a detective’s position, you will, once again, have to go through some of the same steps that you had to fulfill while applying for a police officer’s job. You will have to meet certain physical requirements – you will be made to take agility, strength, hearing and vision tests. You may further have to take the polygraph test; you may further be interviewed for the position.

Just like when you were applying for the police officer’s position with your department, applying for a detective’s position may also require holding a valid driver’s license.

Becoming a detective is a promotion in every sense; therefore, apply for the position only when you are positive that you have the following qualities:

  • Strong writing skills
  • Perceptiveness
  • Patience
  • Superior communication skills
  • The ability to multi-task

As mentioned earlier, only a selected few are considered for such promotion, therefore become an exemplary police officer when you are hired. Your police department may have a minimum period requirement before a police officer can apply for a detective’s position. Let your superiors know that you want to become a detective and then work towards it. If your work results in commendable evaluations from your superiors, you stand a good chance of becoming a detective.’The average time it takes to become a detective is ten years, according to the 2010 United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. In order to become a detective, you apply and are accepted into a police force in your state. Once accepted, you will work as an officer for three to five years before you can apply to be a detective.

Education (2 to 4 years)

To become a public detective, you need to first become a police officer. This requires you to graduate out of high school and join the academy. However, police departments are more likely to promote or hire someone with a degree than someone who doesn’t have one. Thus, you should work on getting an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminology or some related field. The former takes about 2 years while the latter takes somewhere around 4 years. They prepare you with the skills and knowledge that a good policeman/investigator should have.

The process of becoming a Detective in the United States can be quite time consuming. The path to becoming a Detective varies depending on where a person applies. This entry is specific to the state and county of San Diego, California, but this process could be similar for other states and counties.

Get hired as an officer (2 years)

The next step after this is to get hired as a police officer. To do this, you need to apply first which might take around 3 months to process before the hiring process begins. The hiring process can last for about 4 months which consists of written, oral, physical, mental, psychological, and even medical tests. You need to pass all of them including a background and polygraph test to get hired into the academy after an interview with the chief.

The academy then lasts for about 6 months as it trains you physically and mentally for the stresses of the job. You are taught how to use a gun, self-defense, how to negotiate with criminals and many other skills that you will require on the job. After you graduate from the academy you are placed on a probation period of about a year with a supervising officer as you patrol the city and receive some “on the job” training. If the supervisor is satisfied with your performance, then you get to become a professional police officer.

Gaining experience as an officer (2-5 years)

Experience is the greatest teacher of them all for an aspiring detective. Thus, as a patrol officer, you should use your time properly observing each case the best you can. This will help you recognize patterns of different crimes and helping you develop the kind of thinking that is required to be a detective. Most police departments do not promote anyone before they have served at least 2 years. Other departments may require a minimum of 5 years of service before they promote anyone to the post of a detective.

Gain experience as a detective (1-3 years)

An aspiring private detective needs to already have some amount of experience in investigations to get into any agency or to get hired by any client. This experience need not come from being a criminal investigator but they can choose alternate investigative careers as well. It can be to investigate financial frauds or research for the public defender’s office. Either way, this builds your credibility enough to become a private detective after retiring from the job of a public one.

If we calculate then we can conclude that it takes about 6 years to become a detective if the odds are favoring you. However, if you want to follow higher education, gain experience as an officer and a detective to become a private detective, then it might take up to 14 years after graduating from high school. If you consider that a cake-walk, then check out the license and certifications that a detective can earn.

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