Detectives need to connect clues to solve crimes; they also follow people, conduct surveillance and searches, and take part in other covert activities. Besides these, detective work has also become very technical. Increasingly more private and public investigation work is computer-based. Detectives also need to stay current on state, local, and federal laws, especially privacy laws. The majority of detectives works as public investigators, and find work in hotels, retail stores, and insurance companies.
To become an investigator -- public or private – you need to study courses specifically designed to teach investigative techniques. Such courses can be either on-campus or online. Investigators can also have degrees in law enforcement and criminal justice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects private and public investigation jobs to grow faster than average. However, competition for the jobs will also be great. Those with good computer forensic skills will be able to land detective jobs more easily.
A policing and investigation associate degree takes 2 years and trains you for entry-level public safety and policing positions. An associate degree course in policing and investigation will cover history of criminology, basics of crowd control, introduction to forensic science, crime scene analysis and interpretation, and so on. This program is available in both the on-campus and distance learning formats.
With an associate degree majoring in policing and investigation, you qualify for entry-level jobs in the law enforcement, policing, and criminal justice fields. Potential jobs include corrections officer, police patrol officer, or probation officer. The minimum educational qualifications for police patrol officers differ according to the state. However, most states consider an associate degree with a major in policing and investigation or some related field, say, criminology or criminal justice adequate for entry-level jobs. Some states insist on a 4-year degree for patrol officers. Many people wanting a career in policing and investigation first apply for an entry-level policing job and then pursue a policing and investigation bachelor degree.
The topics of policing and investigation are more likely to be taught as part of a criminal justice or law enforcement degree program than as a special subject. As such, lessons on techniques used for policing and investigation could include coursework on the care and use of firearms as well as other weapons, arrest procedure, communications, road and vehicle safety, crowd management, traffic management, evidence collection, criminology, forensics and general science. A broader criminal justice course will cover terrorism, homeland security, and cyber crime. Those wanting to become law enforcement officials and agents should also be ready to undergo rigorous psychological and physical training. It normally takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Those who concentrate on policing and investigation subjects when studying for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can at least become a state or local police officer. They could also become a deputy sheriff. Other possible work opportunities include becoming a private detective, starting a private security company, or working for one. After gaining work experience and obtaining an advanced degree one can seek work with federal law enforcement agencies.
A master’s degree in policing and investigation is designed for law enforcement professionals or officers with a bachelor’s degree in related fields. These courses teach policies and theory of criminal justice, law, dispute resolution techniques, criminal psychology, law enforcement administration, and cultural sensitivity. The practical skills taught help in evidence collection, crime scene investigation, and courtroom techniques.
With a master’s degree in policing and investigation, you qualify for better positions in local and state police departments. Such jobs include police detectives and officers responsible for demarking crime scenes, questioning suspects, obtaining evidence, and tracking court proceedings. Other job avenues include positions in court enforcement work -- maintaining the procedural and safety needs of courtrooms. Yet another opportunity that is open is as a manager of corrections departments, supervising the work of corrections officers. With a master’s degree in policing and investigation you could also work as an FBI or DEA agent and solve federal crimes and old cases using newer technologies such as DNA identification.