Detective or Criminal Investigator Salary
The majority of Detective or Criminal Investigators in the United States — slightly more than half — boast more than 10 years of experience in their profession. Salaries stretch from $36K to $109K per year, and the median is $56K per year. Geography and career length each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Medical benefits are awarded to almost all, and a fair number earn dental coverage. Making up 73 percent of those who took the survey, male Detective or Criminal Investigators greatly outnumber their female counterparts. For the most part, Detective or Criminal Investigators enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction. The data for this snapshot was collected from individuals who took PayScale's salary survey.
Job Description for Detective or Criminal Investigator
Detectives or criminal investigators typically investigate violations of the law using all resources necessary (such as witnesses, written records, video surveillance, and numerical data). Throughout the investigation, detectives or criminal investigators interpret information, prepare reports, and provide a final evaluation of the evidence. Additionally, these individuals may be called on to testify in court. Detectives or criminal investigators often assess the evidence in an office setting, but much of the data is collected through on-site visits to witnesses and the crime scene. Research and analytical skills must be highly advanced, as much of the job involves synthesizing information and making conclusions.Read More...
Typical hours may vary greatly depending on the case. Because criminal investigators may need to go undercover to observe events and conversations without the knowledge of suspects or other witnesses, it is possible to work early, late, and unpredictable hours.
Detective or criminal investigators are usually required to have an associate’s degree in law enforcement, criminal justice, or a related field, as well as two years of previous experience in investigative work or law enforcement. Many criminal investigators are tasked with making physical arrests, which means that people in this role could also be required to be in excellent physical condition. All detective and criminal investigators must pass a drug test prior to beginning work.
Detective or Criminal Investigator Tasks
- Compile, examine and assemble evidence to identify culprits.
- Facilitate information and evidence transfer between departments.
- Make arrests and restrain suspects.
- Examine crime sites, interview suspects and witnesses and document findings.
- Document hypotheses, warrants and conclusions, associating evidence and following regulations.
Common Career Paths for Detective or Criminal Investigator
Detective or Criminal Investigators may enjoy a small increase in earnings as they climb the career ladder to roles like Police Chief, which pays $67K on average annually. As Detective or Criminal Investigators progress in their field, many go on to become Fraud Investigators. In fact, this transition is more common than anything else, and median pay for the role is $49K. Another common career choice for Detective or Criminal Investigators is to move into a Police Detective role — this promotion usually pays $59K.
Detective or Criminal Investigator Job Listings
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Pay by Experience Level for Detective or Criminal Investigator
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Experience does not seem to be a strong driver of pay increase in this role. Detective or Criminal Investigators in the early stages of their careers take home approximately $50K on average. The average for people in the five-to-10 year group is only a little larger at $52K. Detective or Criminal Investigators who work for 10 to 20 years in their occupation tend to earn about $60K. After two decades in the workforce, the average Detective or Criminal Investigator generally earns more than ever; median pay for this group is estimated at $66K.
Pay Difference by Location
For those looking to make money, Detective or Criminal Investigators in Seattle enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 80 percent above the national average. Detective or Criminal Investigators will also find cushy salaries in Los Angeles (+63 percent), Houston (+52 percent), Chicago (+48 percent), and Boston (+26 percent). One of the biggest compensable factors for Detective or Criminal Investigators is geography, with workers in Little Rock earning a whopping 40 percent below the national average. Below-median salaries also turn up in Phoenix and Denver (11 percent lower and 8 percent lower, respectively).