daily task and responsibility
- Enforce laws
- Respond to emergency and non-emergency calls
- Patrol assigned areas
- Conduct traffic stops and issue citations
- Obtain warrants and arrest suspects
- Write detailed reports and fill out forms
- Prepare cases and testify in court
Police and detective applicants must have at least a high school education or GED and be a graduate of their agency’s training academy. Many agencies and some police departments require some college coursework or a college degree. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in many federal agencies and in certain geographical regions.
Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually be at least 21 years old, have a driver’s license, and meet specific physical qualifications. Applicants may have to pass physical exams of vision, hearing, strength, and agility, as well as competitive written exams. Previous work or military experience is often seen as a plus. Candidates typically go through a series of interviews and may be asked to take lie detector and drug tests. A felony conviction may disqualify a candidate.
TrainingApplicants usually have training as a recruit before becoming an officer. In state and large local police departments, recruits get training in their agency's police academy. In small agencies, recruits often attend a regional or state academy. Training includes classroom instruction in constitutional law, civil rights, state
laws and local ordinances, and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, use of firearms, self-defense, first aid, and emergency response.Detectives normally be
Police and detectives
Protective service occupations
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics
The median annual wage for police and detectives was $56,980 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,060, and the top 10 percent earned more than $93,450.
The median wages for police and detective occupations in May 2012 were as follows:
$74,300 for detectives and criminal investigators
$55,270 for police and sheriff’s patrol officers
$55,210 for transit and railroad police
- $48,070 for fish and game wardens
work EnvironmentAbout this section
Police and detectives regularly work with crime and accident scenes.
Police and detectives held about 780,000 jobs in 2012. Most police and detectives work for local governments and some work for state governments or the federal government.
Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous.
The jobs of some federal agents, such as U.S. Secret Service and DEA special agents, require extensive travel, often on short notice. These agents may relocate a number of times over the course of their careers. Some special agents, such as those in the U.S. Border Protection, may work outdoors in rugged terrain and in all kinds of weather.