How To Become A Criminal Investigator: Degree and Education Requirements

Stanley Tan1 Comment

what degree do you need to become a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent
majors for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents

Other names for this job might include Agent, Air Marshal, Border Police, Child Support Investigator, Child Support Officer, CIA Agent (Central Intelligence Agency Agent), Counter Intelligence Agent, Crime Analyst, Crime Investigator Special Agent, Crime Scene Investigator (CSI)

  • $79620
  • 74%
    Job satisfaction
  • Medium
    Becoming one
  • Low
    Job growth
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Be A Criminal Investigator: What You Really Need

In this requirements guide for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents, you will find out what do you need to become a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent and what it takes to become one.

After reading this, you will be able to plan for your future if you want to be a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent.

Degree required

Recommended degree level

High School Diploma

High School Diploma

Some college courses


Associates degree

Bachelors degree

Generally, employers are looking for Criminal Investigators who have a High School Diploma. They also prefer someone who is good in Critical Thinking and Active Listening.

1 common question that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become A Criminal Investigator or what courses do I need to take.

We did a survey to ask other Criminal Investigators what did they major in college or university and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Natural Resources Law Enforcement and Protective Services
Criminal Justice/Police Science
Criminalistics and Criminal Science
Law Enforcement Investigation and Interviewing
Law Enforcement Record-Keeping and Evidence Management

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents must have at least a high school education or GED and be a graduate of their agency’s training academy. Many agencies and some police departments require some college coursework or a college degree.


schools for Criminal Investigators

Interested in becoming A Criminal Investigator? Find the right schools that can help you to become one. You will need some of your details to get you matched with the right college or university. This service is free thanks to our sponsors.

Questions to ask the university or college:

  1. How many students are in the program?
  2. Is your program accredited?
  3. How many faculty members do you have? Do they hold the right credentials?
  4. What is your job placement rate?
  5. Does your school hold career fairs or other on-campus events with employers? How many employers typically attend?
  6. How many of your students have at least one internship by graduation?

Click to start becoming a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent

How long does it take


You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience to be A Criminal Investigator.

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.

To become A Criminal Investigator, you will usually need 1 to 2 years of training which includes both on-the-job experience and training with experienced workers.

How long does it take
1 1/2 to 3 years

Work experience
1 to 2 years

1 to 2 years

2 to 4 years

No experience

3 to 6 months

6 months to 1 year

Job training
6 months to 1 year

6 months to 1 year

1 to 3 months

3 to 6 months

2 to 4 years

1 to 2 years

Most Criminal Investigators have 1 to 2 years work experience and 6 months to 1 year job training.

To increase your chances of getting a job, you can look for job training while studying to be one.

License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification
Must be at least 21 years old and meet physical requirements

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents must be U.S. citizens, usually be at least 21 years old, have a driver’s license, and meet specific physical qualifications. Applicants may have to pass physical exams of vision, hearing, strength, and agility, as well as competitive written exams. Previous work or military experience is often seen as a plus.

Skills required

We asked other Criminal Investigators if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Critical Thinking what does this mean
2.Active Listening what does this mean
3.Speaking what does this mean
4.Social Perceptiveness what does this mean
5.Complex Problem Solving what does this mean
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

We did some research and found that most successful Criminal Investigators have these 5 common characteristics. Most of them had Integrity and Stress Tolerance.

2.Stress Tolerance
3.Self Control
5.Attention to Detail

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need some know-hows to do the job. To become a successful Criminal Investigators you need to acquire knowledge in these 5 key areas.

1. Law and Government what does this mean
2.Public Safety and Security what does this mean
3.Customer and Personal Service what does this mean
4.English Language what does this mean
5.Education and Training what does this mean

As A Criminal Investigator, you may also be required to know how to use certain Project management software, Graphics or photo imaging software and Word processing software tools.

Case management software (Project management software)
Computer aided composite drawing software (Graphics or photo imaging software)
Corel WordPerfect software (Word processing software)
Crime mapping software (Map creation software)
Email software (Electronic mail software)
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

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Career type

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
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Related to Criminal Investigators and Special Agents Requirements

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Additional resources is a career and college finder site. We help students to find a career and college that is right for them.
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
Written by: Stanley Tan
Criminal Investigators investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.
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One Comment on ““How To Become A Criminal Investigator: Degree and Education Requirements”

  1. Paul Dearing

    Awesome post

    I have just completed my high school and was looking for someone to guide me and your article has really offered me great knowledge and will help me pursue my dream.

    Thank you so much for this information it will be really helpful.

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