Duties and responsibilities
A narcotics detective investigates and apprehends persons suspected of illegal sale or use of narcotics. Their goal is to catch these criminals, and convict them of their crimes and ensure that the community is kept safe! Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Compiling identifying information on suspects charged with selling narcotics
- Developing plans on how to catch the suspect
- Gathering, verifying and assessing all appropriate and available information
- Maintaining surveillance of suspects to detect their habit of working
- Selecting the undercover officers best suited to contacting the suspect and purchasing narcotics
- Submitting written reports containing charges, available facts, and evidence to authorize getting a search warrant or wire tap
- Participating in and conducting raids, searches or arrests
- Appearing in court as a witness
- Instructing a team of other detectives or police officers
To become a narcotics detective, you will first need to serve as a police officer and then progress up the ranks. All detectives will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Typically, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation require prospective detectives to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field (e.g., criminal justice or law enforcement). Furthermore, it will be very beneficial, but not essential, to speak another language – Spanish is the most preferred.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as experience in the police force, narcotic detectives will need skills such as:
- Physical stamina, as they may have to chase or restrain suspects
- Verbal communication skills, as narcotic detectives will need to communicate clearly with other police officers/detectives, witnesses and the suspect
- Written communication skills, as narcotics detectives will need to write maintain written documents
- Attention to detail, as narcotic detectives must carefully examine all information to paint a complete picture and successfully track down the criminal
- Leadership skills, as narcotic detectives will have to instruct a team of police officers and other detectives
- Ability to remain calm in stressful situations, as narcotic detectives will have to work in unpredictable environments. They will also need to be able to effectively lead teams under these circumstances too
Narcotic detectives tend to work full time. They may often work overtime and may be on call to attend when new information/or leads are received. Therefore, they may have to work evenings, weekends and holidays.
According to salaryexpert.com, the average annual salary for a narcotics detective in the United States is $73,923 per year. Entry level salaries are around $52,860 per year and at a more senior level, you can expect to earn in excess of $91,283.
Narcotic detectives tend to progress from lower roles, such as police officers or detectives with less responsibility. They can progress to have more leadership responsibility and will be in charge of a large team of detectives and investigative professionals.