Becoming A Detective

Guidelines for Becoming a Detective

            A number of television show series depict police work as being easy and always with a successful ending, but anyone who is considering becoming a detective in real life needs to realize that reality is much different.  A job not for the faint of heart, having a career as a detective can be dangerous and stressful, but also can be very rewarding.

            The job of detective can take many forms.  A detective may work as a member of the police department, or may work strictly for a business or industry.  They also may open their own detective agencies.  Retail stores often have plainclothes detectives patrolling through their establishment to spot theft; banks often employ detectives to guard the building during business hours; detectives can be hired to be personal bodyguards, and many other examples could be detailed in many different industries.  There are many positions available in many walks of life for a person choosing this career.

            An interest in this type of career generally begins in law enforcement.  There are certain attributes that are common with individuals who have pursued a career as a detective, including:

*Enjoys working with the public
*In good physical and mental condition
*Adheres to high moral principles
*Adheres to professional standards

            In addition to these personal traits, a candidate for the position must be a United States citizen who has attained the minimum age of 20 years old.  For young people who are still in high school and wish to prepare for this career, concentrating on physical education and sports as well as receiving a high grade point average are advisable.  It is highly beneficial to be bilingual, so focusing on becoming proficient in at least one other language is also strongly recommended.  It can be helpful to contact the local police department to participate in a part time job, even if of volunteer status.

            While it is not usually required, law enforcement agencies generally recommend that an individual who is interested in becoming a detective begin by taking courses related to the industry after completing high school.  Criminology, psychology courses and law classes are among those which offer a great deal of industry specific information that will prove to be helpful.

            Detectives quite often begin their career as police officers.  After completing their education, the individual should apply to take an entrance exam for the local police department. If qualified and accepted, most police departments will require that candidates participate in a police academy for up to 14 weeks.  Classroom instruction will be given in areas such as civil and constitution law, ordinances on both local and state levels, accident investigation, use of firearms, first aid, emergency response and more.  The candidates will also be subject to background checks, drug tests, psychiatric evaluation and lie detector tests.

            Once training as a police officer is successfully completed, the individual can be appointed to a police force for experience.  When detective openings within the force become available, an application must be submitted by all interested candidates.  Competition can be stiff; with opportunities few and far between.  Many ex police officers and military personnel opt to become private detectives, an industry that requires being licensed for the job.

            Becoming a detective will mean long hours, median pay and often dangerous conditions.  It can also mean helping to locate a missing person, putting together clues to solve a mystery and to bring to justice a fugitive.  Many people have benefitted from the devotion and hard work provided by the individuals who have chosen this career, and while every case may not have a happy ending, those which do can make the job much more rewarding.