Narcotics Officers: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Narcotics officers are police officers who specialize in preventing illegal drug use and distribution. Depending on the department or agency for which they want to work, prospective narcotics officers may need a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree.

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Job Description for a Narcotics Officer

Narcotics officers work with police agencies or departments to combat illegal drug use and distribution. Some agencies combine narcotics and criminal investigation into one division. Narcotics officers might choose to work in smaller communities, or they might pursue a broader federal job, such as a position with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Narcotics Officer Job Duties

Narcotics officers investigate drug distribution. They might work with other agents, businesses and concerned organizations to identify drug trafficking routes and dealers and ensure the safety of the community.

Narcotics officers also might write reports and analyze evidence for cases. Additionally, they might disseminate information concerning drug prevention within the community.


Narcotics officers must have physical stamina to conduct investigations. They also must be flexible concerning their work hours, and shift work may be necessary. Additionally, all police officers must demonstrate integrity and determination to complete their work satisfactorily.

Job Requirements for Narcotics Officers


Typically, narcotics officers have the same educational requirements as regular police officers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some agencies might require a bachelor's degree, while others require only a high school diploma ( Some agencies accept former work experience or time in the military in lieu of postsecondary education. Aspiring narcotics officers might have the best chances of employment if they have an associate's or bachelor's degree.


Most law enforcement agencies require that prospective narcotics officers complete both physical and written exams. Agencies usually require their candidates to be at least 21 years old.

After being hired, entry-level officers may be required to undergo further training at a police academy. This training is to provide knowledge about laws and procedures for the particular area the agency is responsible for. Additionally, officers must learn basics of emergency management, self-defense and gun control.

Probationary Period

In order to advance within an agency, an officer usually has to stay within the department for several months or even years. After finishing the probationary period, officers may be able to undergo training and take tests for advancement. Police officers can then choose to specialize in narcotics or a similar field.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for detectives and criminal investigators were expected to increase only 2% between 2012 and 2022, which is much slower than the national average of 11%. The median salary among these professionals was $74,300 as of 2012.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics