Criminal Investigators

Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security > Law Enforcement Services

Projected Growth: Slower than average

Projected Job Openings

Medium Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.

Common job titles of Criminal Investigators include:

Experience and Education

Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

  • 41.84% said they needed a High School Diploma.

  • 23.7% said they needed a Some College Courses.


    Identify case issues and evidence needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.

    Obtain and verify evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.

    Determine scope, timing, and direction of investigations.

    Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.

    Collect and record physical information about arrested suspects, including fingerprints, height and weight measurements, and photographs.

    Search for and collect evidence, such as fingerprints, using investigative equipment.

    Collaborate with other authorities on activities, such as surveillance, transcription, and research.

    Compare crime scene fingerprints with those from suspects or fingerprint files to identify perpetrators, using computers.

    Develop relationships with informants to obtain information related to cases.

    Serve subpoenas or other official papers.

    Obtain and use search and arrest warrants.

    Investigate organized crime, public corruption, financial crime, copyright infringement, civil rights violations, bank robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and other violations of federal or state statutes.

    Analyze evidence in laboratories or in the field.

    Collaborate with other offices and agencies to exchange information and coordinate activities.

    Examine records to locate links in chains of evidence or information.

    Record evidence and documents, using equipment such as cameras and photocopy machines.

    Perform undercover assignments and maintain surveillance, including monitoring authorized wiretaps.

    Testify before grand juries concerning criminal activity investigations.

    Issue security clearances.

    Manage security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information.

    Provide protection for individuals, such as government leaders, political candidates, and visiting foreign dignitaries.

    Administer counterterrorism and counternarcotics reward programs.


Wiretap equipment

Ultraviolet UV lights

Two way radios

Suspect fingerprinting equipment

Service revolvers

Semiautomatic pistols

Riot shields

All Tools

Protective gloves


Police shotguns

Police patrol cars

Plastic handcuffs

Personal computers

Pepper spray


Mobile data computers

Metal handcuffs

Metal detectors

Laptop computers

Instant print cameras

Impression casting kits

Fingerprint evidence kits

Filter masks

Explosive detectors

Drug testing kits

Distance measuring wheels

Digital voice recorders

Digital video cameras

Digital cameras

Desktop computers

Crime scene tape measures

Crime scene rulers

Bulletproof vests

Body armor

Blood collection kits

Biohazard suits

Audio recording equipment

35 millimeter cameras


Case management software

Computer aided composite drawing software

Corel WordPerfect

Crime mapping software

ESRI ArcView

Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS

Law enforcement information databases

All Technologies

National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN


Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.


Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Management of Personnel Resources

Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.


Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Deductive Reasoning

Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Inductive Reasoning

Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Comprehension

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Sensory Abilities › Visual Abilities › Near Vision

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Occupation Sections


Law and Government

Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Public Safety and Security

Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

English Language

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Education and Training

Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.


Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Computers and Electronics

Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Personnel and Human Resources

Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Administration and Management

Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.


Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.

Sociology and Anthropology

Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

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