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how long do you have to go to school to be a detective?

i want to be a detective but a lot of people say after you go to school you have to become a police first then you can come a detective is that true?

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Dave’s Answer

Hi Zoria. If you are asking about a police detective, yes you will have to become a police officer or deputy sheriff first.

The hiring process is demanding. You will go through a battery of tests. Physical agility, psychological, drug, and a thorough background investigation. Once you pass all of that, you get to spend about 6 months in the police academy.
As far as police work is concerned, the academy will be the second hardest thing you will encounter as far as training is concerned.

Once you graduate from the academy, you will go to field training which will be the hardest training you will encounter.
And yes most police departments want some type of college degree (ex. AS/BS) prior to appointment (at least in California.)

But working patrol will give you a solid foundation about many aspects of law enforcement. And like anything else, you will get out of it what you put into it. If you are a hard worker and thorough report writer in patrol you will probably be noticed my detective supervision. If a person is more inclined to be lazy and cut corners, well detective supervision will notice them but probably not in a good way.

When you say school I think formal education. If you become a police officer or deputy, you will be able to obtain courses through your department too.

I hope I didnt confuse you but there are some educational needs before you can become a detective. Good luck!
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James’s Answer

To become a detective/investigator you need a strong foundation, and that comes from working as a patrol officer. There you will interact with different personalities, developing your interview and interrogation skills, recognizing non-verbal clues from people who are truthful and those who are deceptive.
You will develop a better understanding of the plight of victims in real time, perhaps minutes after they have suffered at the hands of others. Also, as a first responder, even though you are wearing a uniform, you are the first "investigator" on scene. Decisions you make and actions you take, may have a great impact on the investigation.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, James! Zoria
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Robert’s Answer

There are many types of investigators/detectives. Police (Local, state, and federal) and for these institutions you first have to put in your time as a patrol officer. The time can vary depending on the department and its size. For example, A small department can be a double-edged sword. You may only do a short time on the street as a patrol officer before being bumped up to detective. The other side of that coin can be entrenched old farts who don't wish to return to patrol and would be happy to die at their desks. Now, if you want to be a private investigator the amount of time and training is set by the state before you can be licensed. California requires years of relevant recent experience before you can even take the state training and test whereas in Virginia you can be licensed as an entry-level investigator after 60 hrs. of training and passing the state test. Let's not forget the military. If you join as an MP (Military Police) you can work your way into CID (Criminal Investigative Division) and parlay that into a possible civilian job with agencies such as NCIS. These are just a few options.

Robert recommends the following next steps:

If your 20 start by taking some Criminal Justice courses to see how you like them. If you find you like the field start applying to test for police deprtments. Of course this is all assuming you have a clean background.
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