To advance in any career you need to have more education, experience, and qualifications than what people at the same level have. To do this, it takes a lot of time and hard work. A detective is usually a police officer who has been promoted to that post because of their exemplary skills in solving crimes.
But to get to that stage, they need to have already gone through the academy, completed the education requirements and then gotten promoted after gaining sufficient experience. A private detective is usually a detective who has resigned from the police force to work freelance or with an institution. Thus, it takes even longer for them. See how much time it takes for a person to become a detective.
Education (2 to 4 years)
To become a public detective, you need to first become a police officer. This requires you to graduate out of high school and join the academy. However, police departments are more likely to promote or hire someone with a degree than someone who doesn’t have one. Thus, you should work on getting an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminology or some related field. The former takes about 2 years while the latter takes somewhere around 4 years. They prepare you with the skills and knowledge that a good policeman/investigator should have.
Get hired as an officer (2 years)
The next step after this is to get hired as a police officer. To do this, you need to apply first which might take around 3 months to process before the hiring process begins. The hiring process can last for about 4 months which consists of written, oral, physical, mental, psychological, and even medical tests. You need to pass all of them including a background and polygraph test to get hired into the academy after an interview with the chief.
The academy then lasts for about 6 months as it trains you physically and mentally for the stresses of the job. You are taught how to use a gun, self-defense, how to negotiate with criminals and many other skills that you will require on the job. After you graduate from the academy you are placed on a probation period of about a year with a supervising officer as you patrol the city and receive some “on the job” training. If the supervisor is satisfied with your performance, then you get to become a professional police officer.
Gaining experience as an officer (2-5 years)
Experience is the greatest teacher of them all for an aspiring detective. Thus, as a patrol officer, you should use your time properly observing each case the best you can. This will help you recognize patterns of different crimes and helping you develop the kind of thinking that is required to be a detective. Most police departments do not promote anyone before they have served at least 2 years. Other departments may require a minimum of 5 years of service before they promote anyone to the post of a detective.
Gain experience as a detective (1-3 years)
An aspiring private detective needs to already have some amount of experience in investigations to get into any agency or to get hired by any client. This experience need not come from being a criminal investigator but they can choose alternate investigative careers as well. It can be to investigate financial frauds or research for the public defender’s office. Either way, this builds your credibility enough to become a private detective after retiring from the job of a public one.
If we calculate then we can conclude that it takes about 6 years to become a detective if the odds are favoring you. However, if you want to follow higher education, gain experience as an officer and a detective to become a private detective, then it might take up to 14 years after graduating from high school. If you consider that a cake-walk, then check out the license and certifications that a detective can earn.