Job Description for a Detective Sergeant

Law enforcement depends heavily on the abilities of its investigators to solve crimes. Detective sergeants are among the most experienced and seasoned investigators employed by police departments and government agencies on the local, state and federal level. These experienced detectives provide guidance and training to junior detectives and work diligently to investigate and apprehend criminals.

Educational Requirements:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), detectives typically must be at least 21 years of age, have a high school diploma, meet specific physical and personal qualifications and attend training at a police academy. Detectives must first work as a police officer or in other qualified law enforcement positions or have prior training and experience as a member of a military police unit or adequate experience as a private investigator prior to being eligible to advance to the detective ranks. Detective sergeants advance up through the ranking system after demonstrating adequate proficiency and aptitude as a junior investigator. Most police departments require additional training and written examinations prior to promotion to the rank of sergeant.

Job Duties

Police detectives gather information and investigate crimes. Detective sergeants oversee and train junior detectives. A great deal of time is spent writing reports, investigating crime scenes and interviewing witnesses. Detective sergeants supervise and direct the collection of evidence and maintain meticulous records for accurate testimony in court proceedings.

Employment Outlook:

The BLS projected that the employment growth for law enforcement careers to increase at about 10 per cent from 2008 to 2018. This growth was due to the growth in population and openings created in departments, as officers and detectives retire or move upward to federal and private sector positions. Employment opportunities at the local and rural levels will be best for individuals with military experience and bilingual skills but the pay is lower due to limited budgets. Urban communities with higher crimes rates offer the best opportunities for employment and advancement to the detective sergeant rank for individuals with investigative skills and training.


Pay is determined by on time in service, seniority and experience. According to the BLS, base pay and benefits for federal and state detectives and investigators may vary due to the amount of overtime they work. Detective supervisors earned median annual wages of £49,068, as of May 2008, according to the BLS. The median annual wages for those employed in positions with the federal government were £58,454; state government positions earned £48,990; and local government police and detectives received £48,633. Federal law enforcement officers receive special salary rates provided per federal laws. Because of the potential availability of special additional pay, individuals interested in pursuing a position as a detective sergeant in a federal agency should consult with a recruiter in advance.

Related Job Opportunities:

Experienced detective sergeants from local and urban areas can easily move into higher positions as special agents with state and federal agencies. There are also positions available in the private sector and with corporate firms for investigators. Positions as corrections officers, private investigators and private security are readily available for detectives seeking advancement of lateral moves into the private sector or with different government agencies.

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About the Author

Steven W. Easley began writing professionally in 1981 as a newspaper reporter with the "Chester County Independent" in Henderson, Tenn. He is a freelance writer, screenwriter and professionally trained truck driver whose work has appeared in "P.I. Magazine" and "American Forests."

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