To catch criminals and investigate various personal matters, undercover detectives conduct covert surveillance operations and gather clues. Although the majority of detectives work for police departments or private investigation firms, some skilled professionals run successful independent businesses. Anyone interested in becoming an undercover detective must first decide whether to join the police force or a private agency. Private detectives must usually obtain college degrees and pass licensing exams administered state or country governing boards, whereas police detectives must meet physical fitness standards and complete classroom and practical training at an academy. To work as an undercover detective in any setting, you’ll need computer skills, honesty, motivation, and a clean criminal background.
A person who wishes to pursue a career as an undercover detective should develop strong communication and computer skills. A detective’s job entails a significant amount of communication with clients, police officers, and witnesses regarding an investigation. A professional will typically devote a significant amount of time to conducting Internet research on suspects, such as searching databases for criminal records and using maps to pinpoint their locations. Undercover detectives frequently use computerized, electronic surveillance equipment such as video and voice recorders while conducting investigations. A thorough understanding of computer technology ensures that a professional can effectively carry out his or her responsibilities.
A person with the necessary personal traits and skills to work as an undercover detective can work for a police agency or a private firm. In most cases, prospective police detectives must have a high school diploma, though some agencies prefer to hire people with college experience in police science or criminal justice. Police academies are where new cadets learn about laws and procedures in a classroom setting and train in exercise facilities. To gain a better understanding of the tasks involved in investigative work, some academies allow aspiring detectives to join experienced professionals on patrols and surveillance jobs. The duration of academy training varies, but most programs are completed in 12 to 15 weeks.
Most private investigation firms require new detectives to have a college diploma, though some people with only a high school diploma and experience in similar jobs can get jobs. A person who studies criminal justice or police science at the bachelor’s level learns the fundamentals of conducting investigations in accordance with local and federal laws. Before being allowed to work independently, many states and countries require new detectives to pass stringent written licensing exams and gain supervised experience in the field. In addition, becoming an undercover detective in the private sector may necessitate firearms training and certification.