July 20, 2024
Discover how much detectives earn in the US, including salaries at the federal and state levels, specialized roles, and the difference between hourly and monthly salaries.


Detectives are essential individuals in law enforcement agencies. They are primarily responsible for investigating crimes, tracking down criminals, interviewing witnesses, and collecting evidence. However, a career in detecting comes with a lot of risks and requires a particular set of skills.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the average salaries of detectives across the US. We’ll also explore the different types of detectives, compare federal and state-level salaries, and highlight the differences between monthly and hourly salary arrangements. Here’s what you need to know.

Salary Breakdown of Detectives

The average salary for detectives in the US is approximately $66,000 per year, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is worth noting that the amount a detective can earn depends on various factors like level of experience, work location, and education level.

There are different levels of detectives, with different pay rates. For instance, a typical patrol detective makes an average salary of $55,000 per year, and that can increase to $75,000 yearly depending on the level of expertise and experience they bring to the table.

Additionally, detectives enjoy different benefits, such as healthcare benefits, which vary by agency. Some employers offer retirement plans and additional perks such as a take-home vehicle.

Differences between Federal and State-Level Detectives

Salaries for detectives vary according to federal and state-level designation, with federal-level detectives making more money. According to the BLS, federal-level detectives earn a median salary of $107,000 per year. In contrast, state-level detectives make a median salary of $75,000 per year.

The qualifications for becoming a detective and the job description vary slightly between both levels. Federal-level detectives usually require a higher educational background, relevant experience and additional training, whereas state-level detectives require less education.

Specialized/Different Types of Detectives

There are different types of detectives and specialization within the field, and this can significantly impact their salaries.

Forensic detectives are responsible for using science to evaluate evidence collected from crime scenes. This job involves extensive analysis which impacts the compensation. Forensic detectives make an average of $61,000 yearly, while those with more expertise and experience can make up to $100,000 annually.

Homicide detectives work closely with other law enforcement departments to solve murders. These detectives make an average of $83,000 yearly, with a higher salary possibility for those with more experience and skillset.

Detective sergeants lead investigations and supervise other detectives, and make an average salary of around $80,000 yearly.

Comparison to Other Law Enforcement Jobs

When compared to other law enforcement careers, detectives are better compensated. Police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers make a median salary of around $65,000 or less per year. Correctional officers make an average of $47,000 annually.

The significant differences in salaries between different law enforcement jobs stem from the different job requirements and complexity of tasks.

Monthly vs. Hourly Salary

Some detectives are paid by the hour depending on the agency they work for, while others receive a monthly flat rate salary. The hourly payment arrangement means that detectives get paid for every hour worked, including overtime hours.

Detectives who receive a monthly flat salary do not get overtime fees but are guaranteed a steady and predictable income flow. This payment arrangement is suitable for detectives who are already experienced and well established in their jobs and are likely not to work overtime regularly.

Job Outlook and Salary Projections

The need for detectives has been on the rise in recent years owing to increased crime rates. Moreover, more advanced technology for conducting investigations is now available, which has positively impacted the market outlook for detectives. These technological advancements will increase the need for detectives with a strong background in science and forensics.

The BLS predicts that the demand for detectives will grow by two percent over the next ten years. This confirms that the job outlook remains strong, and the potential for salary growth over the years is evident.


Being a detective is a high-risk job that requires a particular set of skills and expertise. However, police departments and law enforcement agencies offer a wide range of benefits and competitive salaries.

The salary of detectives depend on the level of experience, educational background, and job specialization. Such variations are seen between federal and state-level detectives, with federal-level detectives making more money but requiring higher prerequisites. Specialized detectives like forensic detectives and homicide detectives can also earn more than the average salary of $66,000.

The demand for detectives is expected to grow by 2% over the next ten years, making it a rewarding career choice with potential for growth.

This guide provides answers to the fundamental queries about detective salaries, enabling individuals interested in become detectives to understand what it takes to become one and the benefits that come with this career path.

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