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.

Median Annual Wage: $79,870

Education: High school diploma or equivalent (42%); Some college, no degree (24%); Post-secondary certificate (16%)

Projected Growth: Little or no change (-2% to 2%)

Related Job Titles: Agent; Investigator; Special Agent; Criminal Investigator; FBI Special Agent (Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent); Detective Sergeant; Detective; Police Detective; Narcotics Detective; Master Police Detective

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents.

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  • 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.
  • Record evidence and documents, using equipment such as cameras and photocopy machines.
  • Obtain and use search and arrest warrants.
  • Testify before grand juries concerning criminal activity investigations.
  • Search for and collect evidence, such as fingerprints, using investigative equipment.
  • Determine scope, timing, and direction of investigations.
  • Collect and record physical information about arrested suspects, including fingerprints, height and weight measurements, and photographs.
  • Analyze evidence in laboratories or in the field.
  • Collaborate with other offices and agencies to exchange information and coordinate activities.
  • Develop relationships with informants to obtain information related to cases.
  • Perform undercover assignments and maintain surveillance, including monitoring authorized wiretaps.
  • Collaborate with other authorities on activities such as surveillance, transcription, and research.
  • Examine records to locate links in chains of evidence or information.
  • Serve subpoenas or other official papers.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents.

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Criminal Investigators and Special Agents.

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