Detective or Criminal Investigator Salary
More than half of Detective or Criminal Investigators in the United States have been in the field for more than 10 years. Pay can fall anywhere from $36K to $111K per year, but median earnings come to around $57K annually. Location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by experience level. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. Medical benefits are awarded to nearly all, and a strong majority earn dental coverage. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.
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 $66K on average annually. A Fraud Investigator role is the most prevalent career advancement for Detective or Criminal Investigators. Paychecks for that role are $49K on average. The Police Detective position is another common transition for Detective or Criminal Investigators; in this role, salaries are typically at the $59K mark.
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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.
Detective or Criminal Investigators with a lot of experience do not necessarily enjoy more money. Survey participants with less than five years' experience report a median income of $50K, and earnings aren't much higher for respondents who have five to 10 years under their belts; respondents in the latter group report a median of just $53K. Detective or Criminal Investigators see a median salary of $59K after reaching one to two decades on the job. Old hands boasting more than twenty years of relevant experience report pay that is more or less commensurate with that extensive experience; average earnings for this group come out to approximately $67K.
Pay Difference by Location
Detective or Criminal Investigators will find that Seattle offers an impressive pay rate, one which exceeds the national average by 79 percent. Detective or Criminal Investigators can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Houston (+66 percent), Los Angeles (+64 percent), Chicago (+34 percent), and Washington (+27 percent). The lowest-paying market is Little Rock, which sits 41 percent below the national average, proving that location is a significant contributor to overall pay. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Phoenix (13 percent lower) and Miami (7 percent lower).
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Key Stats for Detective or Criminal Investigator
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