Private Detective Vs Public Detective

In every career, there are other, similar alternatives for that job. These jobs may be better or worse compared to your original choice. At the end of the day, it comes down to your own perception and what suits your personality the best. To do this, it is important for you to have all the information regarding both the options. Our topic of discussion today is the difference between the career of a private investigator and a police detective.

What Is The Difference Between A Private And Public Detective

Education requirements

The role of a police detective is a career advancement for most police officers. To do this, they are supposed to graduate high school and successfully get selected in the training academy. One might choose to complete an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree on the way, but this is not necessary. However, some departments are starting to give the degree more and more importance. At the academy, one learns many things and if successful gets to become a police officer after going through a probation period. A few years of experience can get them promoted to the post of a detective.

A private detective, on the other hand, requires no specific education requirements. It might depend on the agency or a client to ask for a specific degree or course certification. These detectives, however, do need previous experience to get established in the field. To gain this experience, they might be required to get an undergraduate or a graduate degree. Most private detectives are ex-law enforcement officers.

Job duties

A police detective works with different government agencies to solve crimes and help people. They are responsible for analyzing crime scenes and determining the answers to all the possible questions that come with it. They apprehend and interrogate suspects till the actual perpetrator is caught and their motive has been revealed. They might have to help other departments like narcotics or arson with their cases as well.

A private detective, on the other hand, is required to do whatever the client needs. They are usually hired to gain information on some institution or a person. At other occasions, they might be hired to investigate a crime. Sometimes, the police department also hired them as consultants for certain cases.

The main difference between the two is that private detectives, unlike police detectives, aren’t allowed to arrest or apprehend suspects. They might be arrested for such things.


Police detectives receive a respectable salary of about $80,000. This value changes according to location, department, experience and many other factors.

Private detectives, on the other hand, don’t earn much. They earn about $45,000 on average. This is mainly due to their intermittent flow of jobs and varying clients. Some clients can afford to pay a lot while others don’t. A well-established private detective may earn more than a police detective at about $90,000.

private detective summary

law enforcement summary

Job outlook

Police detectives are currently more in number since there aren’t many ex-detectives that decide to become a private detective after resigning. However, there is a very slow rise of 2% over the course of 20 years for police detectives. This is much slower than the average for other occupations. On the other hand, the rise of private detectives’ jobs is at 11% which much faster than the average. This is mainly due to the freedoms that come with being a private detective. You get to select your own hours and stand by your own rate.

At the end of the day, you will find that each job comes with its own pros and cons. It is up to you to see which job suits your needs and personality better. If you feel that you would like more freedom and can deal with an unstable source of income, then you can choose to be a private detective. Otherwise, you can become a police detective and serve the nation and its citizens.

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