Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.
Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Police officers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Working around the clock in shifts is common.
How to Become a Police Officer or Detective
Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college, or higher, degree. Most police and detectives must graduate from their agency’s training academy before completing a period of on-the-job training. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and able to meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications.
The median annual wage for police and detectives was $56,980 in May 2012.
Employment of police and detectives is projected to grow 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Continued interest for public safety will lead to new openings for officers; however, jobs may be competitive, depending on location.