A Career Guide: How to Become a Successful Police Detective


Jan 7, 2022

If you have a passion for bringing criminals to justice and wish to embark down a worthwhile, lucrative, and scalable career pathway, becoming a police detective could very well be your calling in life. In this role, you will be tasked with evaluating pieces of evidence, interviewing witnesses, and identifying potential suspects, your overarching goal being to create and maintain a safe society.

Police detective work is by no means a walk in the park. If you’re to succeed in this professional endeavor, you’re going to need to work incredibly hard on a daily basis. More importantly, you’re going to need to heed the advice laid out in the article below.

Here are five things you must do to become a successful police detective:

1. Cultivate a number of skills

If you’re to succeed as a police detective, it’s recommended that you go above and beyond to cultivate a number of crucial attributes. With the right soft and hard skills in place, you will find it much easier to remain cool under pressure. This will help you to get to the core of each issue that you encounter, which in turn will help you to forge a credible, reliable, and authoritative reputation for yourself within the field of law enforcement.

Here are a few of the skills you are advised to improve if you want to become a successful police detective:

1. Reasoning

2. Communication

3. Investigative

4. Planning

5. Problem-solving

6. Teamwork and inter-department collaboration

7. Leadership and management

8. Decision-making

On top of all these skills, you will also need to display a high level of both physical fitness and emotional resilience. Police detective work is not for the faint-hearted, which is why you are advised to carry yourself in a robust and steadfast manner at all times. This will help you to handle the rigours of your day-to-day work in an effective fashion, which in turn will aid you in your bid to create a healthy work-life balance.

2. Gain work experience

As soon as you know that you want to become a police detective, you shouldn’t waste any time gaining some valuable work experience. Immersing yourself in a real-world, real-time detective environment will truly open up your eyes to the world of law enforcement. Crucially, it will either make you want to carry on pursuing a career in this difficult yet highly rewarding field, or it will make you realize that you aren’t quite ready for this intense level of commitment.

When taking part in a work experience program, it’s recommended that you pay close attention to the established detectives that you work alongside. This is down to the simple fact that seasoned veterans understand the nuances and intricacies of effective police work. They know how to deliver terrible news in a discreet manner, they know how to strike the perfect balance between sensitivity and firmness when communicating with others, and they know how to read body language when interrogating potential suspects. By studying these professionals and the way in which they operate, you will be sure to learn vital lessons that can then be used to improve your own detective performance.

3. Go to university

In order to become a police detective, you will be required to graduate from an esteemed law enforcement university with a BA Criminology degree. With this certification at hand, you will be able to showcase the fact that you have your finger on the pulse of the latest policing techniques. What’s more, taking part in a four-year program will also prove that you are dedicated to your role as a law enforcer. Ultimately, this will make it easier for prospective employers to place their trust in you going forward.

On your Criminology program of choice, you will be taught all manner of crucial lessons pertaining to the modern world of law enforcement. Some of these lessons include:

1. Crime and society

2. Criminal justice system

3. Theory of crime and punishment

4. Social justice

5. Childhood and youth crime

6. Forensic collection and evaluation

7. Motive for crime

8. Social policy

4. Remain dedicated

Make no mistake about it; law enforcement is by no means an easy profession. Police detectives are forced to face a plethora of issues on a day-to-day basis, which means that you will have your work cut out for you should you decide to embark on this career pathway.

Long hours, unsafe working environments, tough decisions — these are just a few of the challenges you will be liable to encounter day in, day out. To ensure that you’re up to the task of overcoming these hurdles, you must remain dedicated, determined, and diligent at all conceivable points. By operating in this manner, you will have the capacity to produce an optimized level of law enforcement over a sustained period of time. Sooner rather than later, this will catch the eye of your superiors and increase your chances of gaining promotions.

For advice on how to become a more dedicated policing professional, be sure to check out this insightful article.

5. Exercise some patience

You aren’t going to become a police detective overnight, and that much is for certain. In order toreach the pinnacle of this niche law enforcement sector, you will need to exercise a whole of patience. Depending on your department’s needs, you could end up having to wait over 10 years to land your first detective role. For this reason, you are advised to sit tight and bide your time. So long as you put all of the above advice into practice, remain focused, and commit yourself to lifelong learning, your time will surely come.

Think you’ve got what it takes to become a successful police detective? If so, be sure to heed the advice laid out in the above article. Do that, and you’ll no doubt be considered a top cop at some point in your career and make a great difference in your role.