All About Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
Job Description: 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
- Analyze evidence in laboratories or in the field.
- Obtain and use search and arrest warrants.
- Examine records to locate links in chains of evidence or information.
- Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.
- Obtain and verify evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.
- Testify before grand juries concerning criminal activity investigations.
What Every Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Should Know
Below is a list of the skills most Criminal Investigators and Special Agents say are important on the job.
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.
Related Job Titles for this Occupation:
- Secret Service Agent
- State Trooper
- Narcotics Detective
- Criminal Investigator
- Counter Intelligence Agent
Criminal Investigator or Special Agent Job Outlook
In 2016, there was an estimated number of 110,900 jobs in the United States for Criminal Investigator or Special Agent. 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.
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.
What is the Average Salary of a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent
The typical yearly salary for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents is somewhere between $43,800 and $138,860.
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents who work in District of Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.
How much do Criminal Investigators and Special Agents make in each U.S. state?
|State||Annual Mean Salary|
|District of Columbia||$122,460|
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 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
Becoming a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent
Learn what Criminal Investigator or Special Agent education requirements there are.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent?
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Sector
The table below shows the approximate number of Criminal Investigators and Special Agents employed by various industries.
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Those interested in being a Criminal Investigator or Special Agent may also be interested in:
More about our data sources and methodologies.
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