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How to Become a Detective in the NYPD

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Using keen observation and problem-solving skills, New York Police Department detectives collect evidence, solve crimes and testify in court. Detectives are typically promoted from police officer based on job performance and merit. To become a police officer, you must undergo an extensive hiring process, including a psychological and physical evaluation, and you must successfully graduate from the police academy.

Hiring Process

A high school diploma, 60 college credits or two years of military experience are required to apply to the NYPD. Candidates must be at least 21 years old and must complete the application and pass a pre-hire interview. The pre-hire interview includes a brief medical exam and character investigation. In addition to a written and oral psychological evaluation, you must complete a job standard test that includes a physical test; this is typically an obstacle course that must be completed in four minutes and 28 seconds. Additional job requirements include having a valid, unrestricted driver’s license, U.S. citizenship, residency in one of the five boroughs of NYC and a clean criminal record.

Police Academy Training

New recruits complete a police academy at the New Police Academy in Queens, NY. Police academy combines classroom training in constitutional law and civil rights with hands-on training in patrol, traffic control and firearms. Training in first aid, emergency response and self-defense are attained, along with police ethics training. In the final weeks of the academy, you complete in-the-field training under the supervision of a licensed officer, riding along with an officer on routine patrol. After the police academy, you must take and pass the police officer exam. The NYPD offers online tutorials and test preparation booklets.

Work Experience

Promotion is the typical path from police officer to detective, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gain expertise as a uniformed police officer by enforcing laws, responding to emergency and non-emergency calls, patrolling assigned areas and arresting suspects. In addition, learn to draft detailed reports and testify in court. Use your communication skills, attitude, police ethics and problem-solving abilities to distinguish yourself from other uniformed officers. The amount of time-spent working as a police officer varies based on your on-the-job performance and aptitude for promotion.

Detective Duties and Compensation

According to the NYPD in 2011, more than 5,000 individuals were detectives. You can be promoted anytime after completing your probationary period. Job duties include investigating crimes, collecting evidence at crime scenes, conducting interviews and obtaining warrants for arrest. These individuals may be uniformed or plain clothed and most specialize in a particular area, like juveniles or homicide. The base pay for detectives was $87,278 in 2011, while those with ten years of experience earned $97,735 in total compensation.


Michigan-based Jennifer Betts has been writing and editing education and career articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared on several educational training websites and blogs. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design and a minor in English. Betts’ first writing job was working as a ghostwriter creating list articles for blogs.

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