What Is the Average Salary of a Police Detective?

Law enforcement salaries differ depending on the agency and area you work in. Keep reading for more information on the salaries of police detectives and about the job duties you'd have in this profession. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

As a police detective, you'll have completed a police training program and have built several years of experience in law enforcement. You might also pursue postsecondary education in criminal justice. With this background, you'll be prepared to investigate crimes by gathering evidence and witness statements. In addition to these duties, you have to be prepared to make arrests and follow through with convictions to ensure a criminal receives the correct punishment. Normally, you'll specialize in a type of criminal activity, like fraud, drug trafficking, cyber crimes or homicide.

Important Facts About Police Detectives

Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent
Key Skills Excellent oral and written communication, active listener, empathy, leadership, good judgment, insightfulness, physical endurance and strength
Work Environment Office, outdoors
Similar Occupations Correctional officer, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, private detective, investigator, probation officer, security guard

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted in May 2018 that detectives and criminal investigators had a median annual income of $81,920 (www.bls.gov). In comparison, PayScale.com reported in May 2019 that police detectives had a median salary of $60,168. The BLS also had wage estimates for detectives and criminal investigators at the bottom ten percent and the top ten percent. If you were in the lowest ten percent, then you only earned $43,800 or less. Those in the highest ten percent of wage estimates had annual incomes of $138,860 or more.

Salary by Industry

In May 2018, the BLS reported that the top industries for employment of detectives and criminal investigators were local, federal and state governments. Workers in these industries earned average salaries of $72,340, $108,770 and $66,700, respectively. Additionally, these governments paid some of the highest average wages for these professionals. Other industries with high average wages included the postal service ($100,620) and psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals ($84,490).

Salary by Location

According to the BLS, the states with the top average pay for detectives and criminal investigators in May 2018 included the District of Columbia ($122,460), Alaska ($118,360), California ($107,120), Hawaii ($107,010) and New Jersey ($102,600). California also had one of the highest employment levels for these workers. Average wages for other states with high employment levels included $79,950 for Texas, $91,250 for New York, $76,560 for Florida and $81,810 for Arizona.

Salary by Experience

May 2019 data from PayScale.com indicated that police detectives with 0-5 years of experience made a median income of $50,000. Salaries grew to $51,000-$55,000 with 5-10 years of experience, $67,000 with 10-20 years of experience and $72,000 with 20 years of experience or more.

Job Outlook

The BLS projects that there will be a 5% employment growth for detectives and criminal investigators from 2016-2026. Budgets will affect growth in each location. The BLS also reports that having training and experience can improve your job prospects.

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