Police and Detectives

Dayanne Figueroa p.3

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Occupational Outlook Handbook

Education Needed/School that offers that major?

Police and detective applicants usually must have at least a high school education or GED and be a graduate of their agency’s training academy. Many agencies require some college coursework or a college degree. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in many federal agencies and urban departments.
Detectives normally begin their career as police officers before being promoted to detective.
Western Illinois University

Skills Required

Ability to multi-task. Officers and detectives may find that the demands of their job vary from day to day. But multiple tasks and extensive paperwork must be completed on time.
Communication skills. Police and detectives must be able to speak with people when gathering facts about a crime and to then express details about a given incident in writing.
Empathetic personality. Police officers need to understand the perspectives of a wide variety of people in their jurisdiction and have a willingness to help the public.
Good judgment. Police and detectives must be able to determine the best way to solve a wide array of problems quickly.
Leadership skills. Police officers must be comfortable with being a highly visible member of their community, as the public looks to them for assistance in emergency situations.
Perceptiveness. Officers must be able to anticipate another person’s reactions and understand why people act a certain way.

Strength and stamina. Officers and detectives must be in good physical shape both to pass required tests for entry into the field and to keep up with the daily rigors of the job.

Job Outlook/Growth

Employment of police and detectives is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Continued demand for public safety will lead to new openings for officers in local departments; however, both state and federal jobs may be more competitive.


The median annual wage of police and detectives was $55,010 in May 2010

Advancement Opportunities or Related Jobs

Police officers usually become eligible for promotion after a probationary period. Promotions to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain usually are made according to a candidate's position on a promotion list, as determined by scores on a written examination and on-the-job performance. In large departments, promotion may enable an officer to become a detective or to specialize in one type of police work, such as working with juveniles.