How Much Do Detectives Get Paid?

Detectives may take photographs to provide evidence.
Detectives may take photographs to provide evidence. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Detectives collect and analyze information to help solve crimes and settle disputes. There are two types of detective: Those who work for police forces and those who work privately. In both cases, detectives use a variety of techniques such as surveillance and analysis of a person's online activity to gain a full understanding of a case. Detective salaries depend on where they work and the type of detective work.

Private Detective Pay

The average yearly salary for private detectives in 2009 was $47,130, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. This data was collected from over 30,000 private detectives throughout the United States. This average is close to the 2011 $46,372 figure produced by pay comparison website

Pay by Industry

Private detectives employed by the investigation and security services industry, in which the vast majority of private detectives are employed, had an average yearly salary of $43,060 in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private detectives who work as consultants for private companies averaged $90,030 a year. Those who work in legal services averaged about $54,920 in 2009.

Pay by Location

Virginia and New Mexico had the highest paid private detectives in 2009. Private detectives in Virginia made on average $68,420 a year and detectives in New Mexico made $64,420 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Alaska and Delaware were also top paying states for private detectives at $59,650 and $59,430 respectively. Missouri had the lowest paid private detectives with an average pay of $38,650 in 2009.

Police Detective Pay

Police detectives had an average salary of $65,860 in 2009, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is equivalent to a monthly income of $5,488 or an hourly pay rate of $31.66. The lowest 10 percent of police detectives earned $37,960 a year, while top paid detectives earned $99,980.

Pay by Industry

Police detectives are generally employed by government agencies at the local, state and federal level. Detectives at the federal level received the highest pay at $75,290; state police detectives earned an average $54,940 local police detectives made on average $61,230 in 2009.

Pay by Location

Given that police detectives at the federal government level make more than their state and local counterparts, it is unsurprising that the District of Columbia had the highest paid detectives in 2009 with an average salary of $94,620. New Jersey and California also had highly paid detectives with salaries averaging at $85,930 and $80,140 respectively. In contrast, Georgia's detectives had average salaries of $53,530 in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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