How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Georgia

Georgia is among the twenty states in the country with the highest rates of violent crime. More than 37,000 violent crimes were reported in the state in 2012, including 573 murders. More than 335,000 instances of property crime were reported in the state that year, with cargo theft being a particular problem.

While detectives from a number of agencies work to investigate these crimes, the leading employer of criminal investigators in the state is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Detectives with the GBI are certified peace officers referred to as special agents. Their duties include:

  • Investigating criminal activities
  • Conducting crime scene searches
  • Interviewing and interrogating people
  • Preparing detailed investigative reports
  • Assisting in the prosecution of cases
  • Testifying in court
  • Recovering stolen property
  • Gathering information to identify people and criminal intelligence
  • Apprehending wanted criminal suspects


Steps to Becoming a Criminal Investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Requirements – Applicants must meet the following requirements to apply for special agent jobs with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any major (the most relevant majors include criminal justice, crime scene investigations, police science, criminology, etc)
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have excellent vision:
    • Uncorrected at least 20/200 in each eye
    • Corrected to 20/20 in one eye and 20/40 in the other
    • Be able to distinguish color
    • Have adequate depth perception

Applicants will submit two copies of their application to the GBI Human Resources Department when special agent jobs are posted online and schedule to take the special agent examination. The dates of the exam will also be posted on the GBI Human Resources website.

Steps in the Hiring Process – After passing the exam, the first step in the hiring process is to be interviewed. The GBI Investigative Division will notify applicants of the date, time, and location for this interview.

The hiring process would then involve the following steps:

  • Physical fitness test
  • Polygraph exam about criminal conduct and illegal drug use
  • Background check
  • Interview with the command staff
  • Psychological and medical examination
  • Drug screening
  • POST requirements

New Recruit Training – Recruits must travel to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth to take the GBI Basic Agent Course. This training will take 16 weeks (650 hours). Some of the topics covered include:

  • Crime scene processing
  • Death investigations
  • Defensive tactics
  • Drug enforcement
  • Emergency vehicle operations
  • Ethics
  • Firearms
  • Interviewing

Once agents have completed their training, they will be assigned to one of the GBI field offices. Detectives must be willing to work anywhere in the state. After being assigned, new agents will participate in a Field Training Agent Program.

Special agents must take part in annual In-Service Training. They will receive advanced training and be recertified in the following areas:

  • CPR
  • Firearms
  • Defensive tactics

Specialized Units with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Many of Georgia’s special agents have specialized training and experience in investigating specific types of crime. The specialized GBI units in which these detectives work include:

  • Child exploitation and computer crimes
  • Commercial gambling
  • Financial investigations
  • Major theft

The GBI provides a substantial amount of training specialized training for the detectives serving in these units.

Detectives in these units work out of the GBI’s fifteen regional offices, so they can better assist local law enforcement when their expertise is needed.

Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACCU) – This unit houses the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Detectives with this unit help other law enforcement agencies investigate crimes committed against children online, child sex trafficking, and child pornography cases.

These special agents act both proactively and reactively to fight crimes against children. They also rescue juveniles that have been forced to work as prostitutes.

Major Theft Unit – With cargo theft being such a substantial problem in Georgia, Governor Keenan issued a directive in 2009 to establish the Major Theft Unit. The detectives in this unit identify individuals and organized crimes groups involved in cargo and other forms of major theft. They then target the criminals for prosecution.

In addition to detectives from the GBI, personnel from the following agencies are also involved in the Major Theft Unit:

  • Georgia Department of Public Safety Motor Carrier Compliance Division
  • DeKalb County Police Department

Georgia’s Municipal and County Criminal Investigation Divisions

Many of Georgia’s counties and municipalities have specialized divisions dedicated to criminal investigators. Some of the larger agencies include:

  • Atlanta Police Department Criminal Investigations Division
  • Gwinnett County Police Department Criminal Investigations Section
  • Hall County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division
  • Henry County Police Department Criminal Investigations Division
  • Hinesville Police Department Criminal Investigation Division
  • Paulding County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division
  • Police Department of Columbus, Georgia Bureau of Investigative Services
  • Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Investigations
  • Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division
    • Property Crimes Section
    • Technical Crimes Section
    • Violent Crimes Section

Back to Top