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Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

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What Do Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Do?

Position Description Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.

What Do Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Develop relationships with informants to obtain information related to cases.
  • Collaborate with other authorities on activities, such as surveillance, transcription, and research.
  • Examine records to locate links in chains of evidence or information.
  • Manage security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information.
  • Search for and collect evidence, such as fingerprints, using investigative equipment.
  • Identify case issues and evidence needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.

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.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Types of Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Jobs

  • Investigative Analyst
  • Border Police
  • Unemployment Inspector
  • Crime Investigator Special Agent
  • Child Support Investigator

Are There Job Opportunities for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents?

There were about 110,900 jobs for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 4.5% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 5,000 new jobs for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 7,500 job openings in this field each year.

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

The states with the most job growth for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent are Nevada, Utah, and Arkansas. 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.

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Salary

The typical yearly salary for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents is somewhere between $43,800 and $138,860.

Salary Ranges for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents who work in District of Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $64,750
Alaska $118,360
Arizona $81,810
Arkansas $60,340
California $107,120
Colorado $87,280
Connecticut $90,470
Delaware $89,930
District of Columbia $122,460
Florida $76,560
Georgia $66,430
Hawaii $107,010
Idaho $73,510
Illinois $87,470
Indiana $75,150
Iowa $73,320
Kansas $62,260
Kentucky $71,300
Louisiana $65,090
Maine $70,620
Maryland $102,370
Massachusetts $101,800
Michigan $86,580
Minnesota $76,640
Mississippi $64,150
Missouri $70,860
Montana $81,210
Nebraska $73,480
Nevada $87,680
New Hampshire $80,370
New Jersey $102,600
New Mexico $77,890
New York $91,250
North Carolina $60,810
North Dakota $84,340
Ohio $75,310
Oklahoma $66,130
Oregon $93,840
Pennsylvania $85,730
Rhode Island $86,580
South Carolina $60,420
South Dakota $72,050
Tennessee $71,940
Texas $79,950
Utah $80,840
Vermont $83,060
Virginia $98,850
Washington $85,440
West Virginia $86,340
Wisconsin $76,590
Wyoming $81,750

What Tools & Technology do Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Use?

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

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • Graphics software
  • ESRI ArcView
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • National Crime Information Center NCIC database
  • Law enforcement information databases
  • Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS
  • National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN
  • Crime mapping software
  • Computer aided composite drawing software
  • Case management software

How to Become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Individuals working as a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent have obtained the following education levels:

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Degree Level

How Long Does it Take 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

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Industries

Similar Careers

Those interested in being a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent may also be interested in:

References:

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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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