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Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

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All About Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Example Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.

Life As a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

  • Determine scope, timing, and direction of investigations.
  • Collaborate with other offices and agencies to exchange information and coordinate activities.
  • Compare crime scene fingerprints with those from suspects or fingerprint files to identify perpetrators, using computers.
  • Manage security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information.
  • Provide protection for individuals, such as government leaders, political candidates, and visiting foreign dignitaries.
  • Administer counterterrorism and counternarcotics reward programs.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent?

When polled, Criminal Investigators and Special Agents say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Other Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Job Titles

  • Criminal Investigative Agent
  • Deputy Sheriff
  • Deputy United States Marshal
  • Criminalist
  • Inspector

Job Opportunities for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

In the United States, there were 110,900 jobs for Detectives and Criminal Investigators in 2016.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 4.5% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 5,000 new jobs for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents by 2026. There will be an estimated 7,500 positions for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Detectives and Criminal Investigators are Texas, New York, and California.

Watch out if you plan on working in New Jersey, Maryland, or Wyoming. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Make?

The salary for Detectives and Criminal Investigators ranges between about $43,800 and $138,860 a year. A Criminal Investigator or Special Agent median salary is $81,920.

Salary Ranges for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

How much do Detectives and Criminal Investigators make in each U.S. state?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

District of Columbia

$122,460

Alaska

$118,360

California

$107,120

Hawaii

$107,010

New Jersey

$102,600

Maryland

$102,370

Massachusetts

$101,800

Virginia

$98,850

Oregon

$93,840

New York

$91,250

Connecticut

$90,470

Delaware

$89,930

Nevada

$87,680

Illinois

$87,470

Colorado

$87,280

Rhode Island

$86,580

Michigan

$86,580

West Virginia

$86,340

Pennsylvania

$85,730

Washington

$85,440

North Dakota

$84,340

Vermont

$83,060

Arizona

$81,810

Wyoming

$81,750

Montana

$81,210

Utah

$80,840

New Hampshire

$80,370

Texas

$79,950

New Mexico

$77,890

Minnesota

$76,640

Wisconsin

$76,590

Florida

$76,560

Ohio

$75,310

Indiana

$75,150

Idaho

$73,510

Nebraska

$73,480

Iowa

$73,320

South Dakota

$72,050

Tennessee

$71,940

Kentucky

$71,300

Missouri

$70,860

Maine

$70,620

Georgia

$66,430

Oklahoma

$66,130

Louisiana

$65,090

Alabama

$64,750

Mississippi

$64,150

Kansas

$62,260

North Carolina

$60,810

South Carolina

$60,420

Arkansas

$60,340

Tools & Technologies Used by Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Criminal Investigators and Special Agents:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Outlook

How to Become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Individuals working as Criminal Investigators and Special Agents have obtained the following education levels:

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent?

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Work Experience

Where do Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Work?

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Sectors

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those thinking about becoming Criminal Investigators and Special Agents might also be interested in the following careers:

  • Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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