How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Maryland

According to statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Maryland is the ninth most dangerous state in the country, with a violent crime rate of 476.8 per 100,000.

Opportunities for aspiring criminal investigators exist at the federal, state and local levels throughout Maryland. The training and requirements for detective jobs in Maryland vary from one agency to another, with some requiring nothing more than a high school diploma, and others requiring work experience, or some college education.

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Qualifying for Federal Level Criminal Investigator Jobs in Maryland

Federal criminal investigators in Maryland are responsible for investigating violations of federal law that occur within the state. Maryland contains more federal criminal investigation agencies than many other states, due to its proximity to our nation’s capital. They include (but are not limited to):

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – Criminal investigators with the FBI in Maryland may work out of the Baltimore field office or from resident agency offices in Annapolis, Frederick, Bel Air, Calverton, Salisbury or Rockville.

The FBI investigates more than 200 categories of federal law violations. Detectives for the FBI, known as Special Agents, must be between 23 and 36.5 years old, have a bachelor’s degree and three years of work experience, and pass a background check. Training requirements for new investigators in Maryland starts with 20 weeks in Quantico, Virginia.

U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Units – Criminal investigators in the U.S. Army work out of Maryland offices in Fort Meade and Aberdeen for the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). Crimes investigated by these detectives are usually those perpetrated upon members of the U.S. Army. While most criminal investigators in the CID are military, the U.S. Army does employ civilian special agents who are assigned to crimes such as sexual assault, computer crimes, and contract fraud.

Applicants must be between 21 and 37 years old, and have either a master degree in a related law enforcement, criminal justice or investigative field or three years of felony investigative work experience. New agents must complete 16 weeks of initial training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Subsequent training depends upon an agent’s specialty area.

Office of the Inspector General Social Security Division Criminal Investigation – With its headquarters in Baltimore, this office employs criminal investigators who investigate crimes against and abuse of the social security system, including fraud and improper payments.

New investigators in Maryland must be between 21 and 37 years of age, have a driver’s license and pass a background check. They receive 11 weeks of Criminal Investigator Training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia; an additional three weeks of training at the Inspector General Criminal Investigator Academy in Glynco; and Program Fraud Training at the Social Security Administration headquarters.

Qualifying for State Level Criminal Investigator Jobs in Maryland

The Maryland State Police Criminal Investigations Bureau is responsible for the investigation of most crimes occurring within the state of Maryland. These include, but are not limited to, crimes involving drugs, gangs, missing persons, computers and firearms.

In order to become a criminal investigator, candidates must first become Maryland State Troopers. Applicants must be U.S. citizens between age 19 and 51, with a high school diploma and driver’s license, and must pass medical and fitness tests as well as a background investigation.

Once hired, training consists of 26 weeks at the Maryland State Police Academy in Pikesville. Criminal investigators in Maryland work out of State Police barracks across the state in cities including (but not limited to):

  • Frederick
  • Cumberland
  • Jessup
  • Westminster
  • Hagerstown
  • Rockville
  • Baltimore
  • Glen Burnie
  • Salisbury

Another option for those who wish to become criminal investigators at the state level in Maryland is to work for the Attorney General’s Office. The Criminal Investigations Division examines white-collar crimes including insurance and securities fraud and environmental crimes. These investigators also work with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as needed. The division’s headquarters is in Baltimore.

Qualifying for County Level Criminal Investigator Jobs in Maryland

Most of the county police departments throughout the state have their own criminal investigations units, which investigate crimes occurring throughout that county. Each county unit has its own requirements and training for new criminal investigators in Maryland. Examples include:

Combined County Criminal Investigation Unit – also referred to as C3I, this unit based in Cumberland is made up of criminal investigators from the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland Police Department, Maryland State Police, State Attorney’s Office, FBI, Frostburg State University Police, and Frostburg Police Department.

These investigators examine crimes occurring throughout Allegany County and assist other jurisdictions as necessary. C3I detectives investigated over 1500 crimes in 2013, with a closure rate of 92.6 percent. As the unit is made up of detectives from various law enforcement organizations, requirements vary.

All departments require applicants to have a high school diploma/GED and pass a criminal background investigation. Detectives will work their way up the ladder, starting as police officers.

Howard County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Bureau – this unit investigates crimes occurring throughout Howard County, and includes Criminal Investigations, Vice and Narcotics, Victim Assistance and Family Crimes and Sexual Assault. It is headquartered in Ellicott City.

In order to become a detective with this unit, one must join the Sheriff’s Department as a new recruit and climb the career ladder to detective. New recruits must have a high school diploma/GED and pass a background check. Training consists of courses at the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission in Sykesville.

Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit – located in Prince Frederick, this unit is responsible for investigating crimes occurring in Calvert County such as homicides, child abuse, rapes, assaults, computer crimes, identity theft crimes and robberies or burglaries.

Employment as a detective with this unit requires that applicants are first Deputy Sheriffs with the Sheriff’s Office. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, hold a high school diploma and driver’s license, and pass written, physical, polygraph and medical examinations, as well as a background investigation. Training takes place at the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission in Sykesville.

Qualifying to Become a Police Detective in Maryland’s Largest Cities

Larger city police departments in Maryland usually have their own criminal investigation units or divisions, responsible for investigation of crimes occurring within the city’s jurisdiction. Again, each has its own requirements and training for criminal investigators. Units include, but are not limited to:

City of Frederick Police Department Criminal Investigation Division (CID) – These detectives investigate crimes reported to the city police department and work with federal and state law enforcement agencies as necessary. Detectives within the CID are police officers who have worked their way up the ladder.

Applicants for Frederick Police Officer positions must be U.S. citizen who will be 21 years old by the time of graduation from the Police Academy, hold a high school diploma or equivalent and a driver’s license. They must complete written, physical and mental examinations, and pass a background check.

New police officers must complete training and certification from the Maryland Police Training Commission at the Frederick Police Academy.

Baltimore Police Department Investigations and Intelligence Bureau – The city police department has a bureau dedicated to criminal investigations in areas including: homicide, special investigations, robbery, child abuse, missing persons, sex offenders, domestic violence, elder abuse, cyber and electronic crimes, and drugs. Detectives working within this bureau started as police officers.

Requirements for that job include being 18 years of age (if hired as a Police Cadet) or 20 years and 9 months (if hired as a Police Officer Trainee). Being a U.S. citizen with a driver’s license, passing a background check (have no felony convictions and must meet prior drug use standards), and holding a high school diploma or GED is required. Training takes place at the Baltimore Police Academy.

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