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Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
SOC Code: 33-3021.03

Investigate alleged or suspected criminal violations of Federal, state, or local laws to determine if evidence is sufficient to recommend prosecution.

Sample of reported job titles: Agent, Criminal Investigator, Detective, Detective Sergeant, FBI Special Agent (Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent), Investigator, Master Police Detective, Narcotics Detective, Police Detective, Special Agent

Tasks

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Compare crime scene fingerprints with those from suspects or fingerprint files to identify perpetrators, using computers.
  • Manage security programs designed to protect personnel, facilities, and information.
  • Provide protection for individuals, such as government leaders, political candidates, and visiting foreign dignitaries.
  • Administer counterterrorism and counternarcotics reward programs.
  • Issue security clearances.

Technology Skills

  • Data base user interface and query software - Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System IAFIS; Law enforcement information databases; National Crime Information Center NCIC database; National Integrated Ballistics Information Network NIBIN (see all 5 examples)
  • Electronic mail software - Email software; Microsoft Outlook
  • Graphics or photo imaging software - Computer aided composite drawing software; Graphics software
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Map creation software - Crime mapping software; ESRI ArcView
  • Office suite software - Corel WordPerfect; Microsoft Office
  • Project management software - Case management software
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Biological evidence collection kits - Blood collection kits
  • Body armour - Body armor
  • Bullet proof vests - Bulletproof vests
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital camcorders or video cameras - Digital video cameras
  • Digital cameras
  • Fingerprint equipment - Suspect fingerprinting equipment
  • Fingerprint latent print kits - Fingerprint evidence kits
  • Footprint lifters - Impression casting kits
  • Hand sprayers - Pepper spray
  • Handcuffs - Metal handcuffs; Plastic handcuffs
  • Handguns - Semiautomatic pistols; Service revolvers
  • Hazardous material protective apparel - Biohazard suits
  • Instant print cameras
  • Masks or accessories - Filter masks
  • Measuring wheels for distance - Distance measuring wheels
  • Metal detectors
  • Narcotic test kits - Drug testing kits
  • Night sticks - Nightsticks
  • Notebook computers - Laptop computers; Mobile data computers
  • Personal computers
  • Physiological recorders - Polygraphs
  • Police or security shotguns - Police shotguns
  • Police vehicles - Police patrol cars
  • Protective gloves
  • Riot shields
  • Rulers - Crime scene rulers
  • Still cameras - 35 millimeter cameras
  • Surveillance video or audio recorders - Audio recording equipment; Digital voice recorders; Wiretap equipment
  • Tape measures - Crime scene tape measures
  • Two way radios
  • Ultraviolet UV lamps - Ultraviolet UV lights
  • Weapon or explosives detectors and supplies - Explosive detectors

Knowledge

  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Telecommunications - Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

Skills

  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • 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.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.

Abilities

  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speed of Closure - The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
  • Time Sharing - The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.

Interests

  • Interest code: EI
    • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
    • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Work Context

  • Telephone - 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others - 76% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Electronic Mail - 80% responded “Every day.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment - 84% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 75% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 74% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 61% responded “Very important results.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 62% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 66% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 73% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 56% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 59% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 61% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 50% responded “Very important.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations - 45% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather - 43% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error - 59% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 56% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With Physically Aggressive People - 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 42% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Physical Proximity - 41% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Letters and Memos - 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 39% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures - 32% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled - 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Time Pressure - 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 37% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants - 32% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections - 27% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”

Education

Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
42%High school diploma or equivalent
24%Some college, no degree
16%Post-secondary certificate

Work Styles

  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Achievement - Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
  • Recognition - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $38.45 hourly, $79,970 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 111,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Average (5% to 9%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 7,500

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