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Do you have to go to college to be a police detective, and if so how much is the average pay for detectives?

I am still in high school but haven't really thought or talked about college, but I am interested in being a detective for the police. I'm not really sure if you have to go to college for it and I'm not sure how much they get paid. Help, please!

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Dave’s Answer

Hi Ellyn. When I started my career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, a college degree was not necessary. I made a lateral transfer 2 years later to the El Monte Police Department where a degree was not necessary.
However as time went on, the requirements have changed with the times. El Monte PD requires a AS/AA degree prior to appointment.
In my opinion its a good thing to have. Your writing and communication skills will be enhanced by having at least a couple of years of college. I went back to college while I was a young patrol officer which at times was difficult to find classes that worked with my work schedule. (This was in the 90's when on-line classes weren't available.)
What you might want to consider is, going to your local police/sheriff's office and ask to go on a "ride along." This is where you will ride with a police officer on his/her shift. You can ask the officer about college, the police academy or anything else law enforcement related. Im sure they will guide you in the right direction.
Also, you may consider finding out if your local police/sheriff's office hires cadets. Normally cadets are high school and college students hired to do miscellaneous jobs at a department like working the front desk (customer service) or working support roles within the department.
As far as the pay was concerned, I lived very comfortably which I have always been grateful for. But pay varies from department to department.
In any event, I wish you the best of luck!!
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Robert’s Answer

Hi Ellyn, while it is not necessary to enter a police department without a college degree many departments are now requiring a minimum of an Associate Degree. However to become a detective might require more training. English and communications are a major component to any law enforcement career as writing is very important in the field. There are many types of detectives, including homicide, robbery, vehicle theft, burglary, fraud, etc. so learning a wide variety of subjects is valuable. You might wish to check out forensic sciences, while at CSU East Bay there were courses in blood splatters ( a very interesting class) another important skill is interrogation. Psychology and Sociology are important to a detective. As for Salary that depends on Location in California the salaries range from about $60,000 to $150,000 again depending on where. Good luck to you. PS check with your local Sheriff or police departments as well as State law enforcement about internships or explorer programs
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David’s Answer

Although you do not have to go to college in most states or regions, it certainly helps with the promotional process. For example, in North Carolina, officers who have a two or four year degree can more easily attain Intermediate and Advanced Law Enforcement certifications. Most agencies have these as a prerequisite for promotion or transfer to a special unit, such as investigations. In the future, it's likely that more law enforcement agencies will require degrees to even apply for a position, let alone receive a promotion.
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Alan’s Answer

You do not need a college degree to be a detective.
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