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What They Do

Detectives and Criminal Investigators Career Video

About This Career

Conducts investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Law Enforcement Services pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Checks victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.
  • Obtains facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and records interviews, using recording device.
  • Secures deceased body and obtains evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.
  • Records progress of investigation, maintains informational files on suspects, and submits reports to commanding officer or magistrate to authorize warrants.
  • Prepares reports that detail investigation findings.
  • Prepares charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases, according to formalized procedures.
  • Preserve, processes, and analyzes items of evidence obtained from crime scenes and suspects, placing them in proper containers and destroying evidence no longer needed.
  • Obtains summary of incident from officer in charge at crime scene, taking care to avoid disturbing evidence.
  • Notes, marks, and photographs location of objects found, such as footprints, tire tracks, bullets and bloodstains, and takes measurements of the scene.
  • Examines records and governmental agency files to find identifying data about suspects.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Crime Scene Investigator (CSI)
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Fugitive Detective
  • Fugitive Investigator
  • Investigator
  • Narcotics Detective — Investigates and apprehends persons suspected of illegal sale or use of narcotics.
  • Narcotics Investigator
  • Special Agent
  • Police Detective — Conducts investigations to solve criminal cases and to prevent crimes from occurring.


  • Email Support
  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900
  • North Dakota Career Resource Network
    ndcrn@nd.gov | (701) 328-9733