How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Columbia
Police Department

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 460 detective and criminal investigators working in Columbia, South Columbia in May 2013. These law enforcement professionals earned an average annual salary of $55,030.

In Columbia, South Carolina detectives work for the Columbia Police Department Criminal Investigations Division (CID). According to the CID, detectives and criminal investigators that work here help to combat crime in the state’s capital by:

  • Following up on information regarding current criminal cases
  • Affirming the authenticity of crimes
  • Identifying and detain criminal suspects
  • Protecting innocent or unjustly accused
  • Retrieving illegally displaced property/evidence
  • Inspecting crime scenes
  • Gathering and analyze evidence
  • Interviewing suspects and witnesses


Steps to Becoming a Detective with the Columbia Police Department CID

Basic Qualifications – Most detectives who hold jobs in Columbia’s CID initially start out by becoming police officers. After undergoing in-service training and earning promotions through work experience, they become qualified to serve as detectives.

According to the Columbia Police Department, minimum requirements for new officers include:

  • US citizenship
  • At least twenty-one years old
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Current South Carolina driver’s license

Incidents for automatic job disqualification include:

  • Criminal misdemeanor of felony convictions
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • DUI offenses

Education Standards In order to join the Columbia Police Department’s law enforcement team, applicants must have at least a high school diploma or GED.

However, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce shows that 42.37% of criminal investigators working in the state have a bachelor’s degree.

To stay marketable in today’s competitive job market, aspiring detectives and criminal investigators seeking jobs in Columbia are encouraged to gain post-secondary education in a career-related field, such as:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal Studies
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Public Service
  • Criminology
  • Forensics
  • Crime Scene Investigations
  • Corrections
  • Criminal Justice Technology
  • Security and Investigation

In-Service Training –Once hired, new recruits continue to receive in-service job training through the Training and Career Development Division within Columbia’s Police Department. Training may include classes covering topics in:

  • Courtroom Procedures
  • Ethics in Law Enforcement
  • Basic Marksmanship

Quarterly training sessions include instruction in:

  • Emergency Vehicle Operations
  • Defensive Tactics/Officer Survival
  • Firearms Techniques and Safety

Career Advancement to Detective – The Columbia Police Department usually promotes police officers to fill open detective jobs only after years of accumulated on-the-job work experience. According to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, the most common amount of work experience among criminal investigators include:

  • 1-2 years: 20.67%
  • 2-4 years: 17.9%
  • 3-6 months: 14.51%
  • 6-12 months: 11.54%
  • 4-6 years: 10.25%
  • + 10 years: 7.34%

Crime Scene Investigators in Columbia, SC

A major unit within Columbia’s CID is the Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) Unit. Experienced detectives and criminal investigators that work in this specialized unit are on call 24/7 to ensure crime scenes are assessed and secured as soon as possible.

Major job responsibilities include:

  • Photographing physical evidence
  • Cataloging collected evidence
  • Thoroughly searching crime scenes
  • Discovering latent fingerprints
  • Making crime scene sketches
  • Providing expert testimony in court

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