Within all criminal justice careers, criminal investigators arguably have the most variety of any other job in this field. At the same time, criminal investigators are also the most misunderstood in what they do based on the problem of so many depicted in movies and TV. You might find some who want to become a criminal investigator, detective, or special agent based entirely on what they saw on a show like “Law & Order: SVU”, or perhaps “CSI.”
What you should know is those portrayals might show fragments of reality, yet don’t present the entirety of what a criminal investigator does. This happens as the result of most shows and movies depicting criminal cases being solved within the time frame of an hour or two.
In reality, your job as a criminal investigator takes much more protracted work and time in solving complex crimes. However, as criminal activity become more complex, these jobs will grow exponentially over the coming decade. Some reports have it increasing 19% over the next five years, which is beyond the average job growth percentage.
What do you have to do to get a criminal investigator career going? Employment is possible with less education than you think, though more rewarding careers take higher degrees. Also, the possibilities of where you’ll work are numerous when you want freedom of location.
Finding the Right Educational Path
It’s possible to become an entry-level criminal investigator with a high school degree, though it’s quite rare. If you want more exciting opportunities in the field, you’ll need at least an associate degree or bachelor’s. When you study in the field of criminal justice, you gain a better understanding of investigative procedures when working for law enforcement. This sometimes includes studying psychology so you can understand the criminal mind, much like forensic psychologists.
In an instance where you want to work for the federal government as a criminal investigator, you’ll definitely need a bachelor’s degree. However, many federal agencies train you as part of your practical education. Learning while doing is a critical part of investigating crimes because every crime case is different.
The FBI, for example, trains everyone they hire, which includes training you likely didn’t experience in college. Sometimes you’ll find internships with federal organizations hiring criminal investigators. This is worth pursuing because it gives you valuable experience you could springboard into a major federal agency like Homeland Security, the FBI, or CIA.
Keep in mind that the disciplines you learn while seeking education have to encompass everything from criminal science to communicating well with people, including criminals. It can alternatively be a job that’s both isolating and public where proper communication is essential.
Locations Where You Could Work
When you expand your horizons as a criminal investigator, you’ll work in places that go beyond being isolated in a police department. Some of the surprising places for employment include the Internal Revenue Service, and even U.S. Forestry.
You’re not stuck behind a desk either because you’ll be out conducting research while investigating crimes. As a private investigator, you’ll be hired privately by companies to investigate crimes in all venues, including casinos, or crimes on the Internet. The latter is an increasing issue requiring knowledge of cyber technology as well as working out in the field.
By working out in the field, you’ll have the freedom of travel and almost feel like a detective in movies. The only difference is you’ll realize how much work takes place in investigating crimes. Solving a crime could take months or years.
Contact us here at Legal.Education to find out more about criminal investigator careers and how rewarding they are in fighting the most insidious crimes today.