Criminal Investigators and Special Agents: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Stan T.Career, OverviewLeave a Comment

Job description

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.

  • Prepare reports that detail investigation findings.
  • Obtain and verify evidence by interviewing and observing suspects and witnesses or by analyzing records.
  • Identify case issues and evidence needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.
  • Investigate organized crime, public corruption, financial crime, copyright infringement, civil rights violations, bank robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and other violations of federal or state statutes.
Read more about what does a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$85020 per year

Average hourly wage
$41 per hour

Criminal Investigators with little to no experience tend to make between $43800 and $57560 while the more experienced ones can earn over $107000 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
DC $59 $122,460
AK $57 $118,360
CA $52 $107,120
HI $51 $107,010
NJ $49 $102,600

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent is to move to a higher paying state like DC. Right now, the highest paying states for Criminal Investigators are DC, AK, CA, HI and NJ.

However, a higher pay at DC doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at DC might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
No degree required

We asked other Criminal Investigators what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a High School Diploma followed by a College Certificate.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in 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
Read more about how to become a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Criminal Investigator and Special Agent.

Suitable for people who likes to start and carry out projects
Suitable for people who values achievements and are results-oriented
This career is perfect for people who love to work both indoors and outdoors.
It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Not suitable for people who likes to work with designs
Demand for this career is growing very slowly
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

74% of Criminal Investigators said they were satisfied with their job and 78% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Jim Furry
Source: Quora

Forrest Woodward
Source: Quora

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Entrepreneurs and The Thinkers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business..

They also like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Learn more about Criminal Investigators

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Related career information

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