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How do I Become an Undercover Detective?

Undercover detectives often have extensive service experience working on patrol.
Quadcopters may be used for video surveillance.
An aspiring undercover detective must be physically healthy.
Detectives must be able to interrogate suspects.
Private detectives need a license.
An undercover detective might become a police officer first.
A college degree in political science or criminal justice may help improve an individual's chances of becoming an undercover detective.
Undercover detectives will typically collect information about their targets.
Undercover detectives typically receive training on how to handle and fire hand guns.
Article Details
  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Natalia Bratslavsky, n/a, Dmitry Lobanov, Donserhio, Stokkete, Pedro Monteiro, Lisa F. Young, Mamuka, Jurra8
  • Last Modified Date: 26 June 2015
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Undercover detectives conduct covert surveillance operations and gather clues to catch criminals and investigate various personal matters. Most detectives work for police departments or private investigation firms, though some skilled professionals operate successful independent practices. A person who believes he or she wants to become an undercover detective must first decide whether to join a police force or a private agency. Police detectives are generally required to meet physical fitness standards and complete classroom and practical training at an academy, while private detectives must usually obtain college degrees and pass licensing exams administered by state or country governing boards. Computer skills, honesty, motivation, and a clean criminal background are necessary to work as an an undercover detective in any setting.

A person who wants to become an undercover detective can prepare for the career by developing strong communication and computer skills. Much of a detective's job involves communicating with clients, police officers, and witnesses about an investigation. A professional generally spends a lot of time conducting Internet research about suspects, such as looking up their criminal records on databases and searching maps to pinpoint their locations. While conducting investigations, undercover detectives often utilize computerized, electronic surveillance equipment such as video and voice recorders. A thorough understanding of computer technology ensures that a professional can perform his or her job effectively.

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An individual who possesses the personal traits and skills necessary to become an undercover detective can choose to work in a police agency or private firm. Hopeful police detectives are typically required to hold high school diplomas, though some agencies prefer to hire people who have college experience in police science or criminal justice. New cadets usually attend police academies, where they learn about laws and procedures in a classroom setting and train in exercise facilities. Some academies allow hopeful detectives to join experienced professionals on patrols and surveillance jobs to get a better understanding of the tasks involved in investigative work. The length of academy training varies, but most programs take between 12 and 15 weeks to complete.

Most private investigation firms require new detectives to hold college degrees, though some individuals can obtain positions with high school educations and experience in similar jobs. A person who pursues a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or police science learns the basics of conducting investigations in accordance to local and federal laws. Many states and countries require new detectives to pass strict written licensing exams and gain supervised experience in the job before they are allowed to work independently. In addition, firearms training and certification are sometimes necessary to become an undercover detective in the private sector.

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Discuss this Article

anon307037
Post 4

How many years of college does it take to become an undercover detective?

chloesmith
Post 3

On how to become a homicide detective: it can be a lengthy preparation because the skills and training are not for an entry-level position.

anon56054
Post 1

being an undercover detective is very risky. By doing this you are risking your life and your family's. Even though this job is kind of hard, I'm a sophomore in high school and my dream is to become an undercover detective.

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