Job Description and Average Salary of a Homicide Detective

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Job Description and Average Salary of a Homicide Detective

A homicide detective is one who helps catch culprits in murder cases by finding the missing clues. The CareerStint article below will give you the job description and average salary of a homicide detective.

Fast Fact
Homicide Hunter, America’s famous documentary television series, which depicts the successful cases of retired homicide detective Joe Kenda has been renewed for a fifth season, as of 2015.

Many murder and crime cases always remain a mystery. It is never easy to solve them when the time frame varies with the complexity of each case. What a homicide detective does is searches proof and other pieces of evidence that may help catch the criminals.

If you thought sitting in an air-conditioned office and holding a magnifying glass is what defines a detective, you are sadly mistaken. It is not a child’s play to be a detective, and it is as dangerous as it is exciting. The job description of a homicide detective is enlisted below.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

Collecting Proof
  • Collecting evidence is one of the primary duties of a homicide detective.
  • He has to arrive at the murder scene, collect proof, store them separately and carefully, and have them sent for further testing.
  • He has to make sure that the way the evidence is collected is in compliance with the respective jurisdiction.
  • He has to send the victim’s body for autopsy so that he can find out how the murder took place, what kind of a weapon was used, etc.
  • He needs to send the blood samples, hair samples, and other proof as well for a forensic examination.
  • He has to carry on the investigation process.
  • He has to interview witnesses, the victim’s family, friends, and relatives, other people associated with the murder, etc.
  • For example, if the victim’s cell phone had a last call made to an unknown number, the detective has to investigate that number and interview the person.
  • Or, if the victim himself has left any proof before death, say he used his bloody hands to write the name of his killer or something related on the floor, the detective has to use his analytical mind to connect the dots and investigate the matter further.
  • He may have to operate the computer, check old records, update databases, use different software, etc., to arrive at a conclusion.
  • He has to visit a variety of places to carry on investigation.
  • He may have to reconstruct the crime scene to understand how the incident took place.
  • He needs to have sketches of the suspects drawn and distributed to local police stations.
  • A homicide detective may be called to testify in court.
  • He must be aware of the legal proceedings and the rules and regulations of the state.
  • He needs to submit all the proof carefully to the court. As he is investigating officer, he will know the case right from the beginning; therefore, his testimony may help change the course of the case.
  • He may even conduct meetings with the lawyers and help prepare court cases.
  • He needs to document and file his findings.
  • Sometimes, if he is unable to testify in the court, he will need to submit a written draft.
  • He has to abide by the rules and regulations, and write reports in a specific language.
  • Generally, filing and paperwork are more important for the detectives working on the police force.
  • If you are a private detective, you may not have to face such tedious paperwork.


  • Presence of mind is what a homicide detective needs, most of all.
  • A college degree in crime-related subjects will be a good start.
  • A detective needs to undergo extensive training with the police department.
  • College education is not mandatory though, but training is. Here is where you are taught about everything that will be useful for you on the job.
  • You are also required to pass a regular background check.


Homicide detectives are generally paid very well, though the figure is considerably lower today as compared to the previous years. The state-wise average salary of a homicide detective is given below.

Alabama USD 46,000
Alaska USD 34,000
Arizona USD 38,000
Arkansas USD 47,000
California USD 49,000
Colorado USD 41,000
Connecticut USD 53,000
Delaware USD 40,000
Florida USD 43,000
Georgia USD 52,000
Hawaii USD 28,000
Idaho USD 30,000
Illinois USD 52,000
Indiana USD 44,000
Iowa USD 45,000
Kansas USD 42,000
Kentucky USD 40,000
Louisiana USD 41,000
Maine USD 41,000
Maryland USD 47,000
Massachusetts USD 55,000
Michigan USD 46,000
Minnesota USD 40,000
Mississippi USD 48,000
Missouri USD 45,000
Montana USD 38,000
Nebraska USD 33,000
Nevada USD 35,000
New Hampshire USD 45,000
New Jersey USD 50,000
New Mexico USD 40,000
New York USD 55,000
North Carolina USD 44,000
North Dakota USD 41,000
Ohio USD 44,000
Oklahoma USD 41,000
Oregon USD 44,000
Pennsylvania USD 44,000
Rhode Island USD 42,000
South Carolina USD 45,000
South Dakota USD 35,000
Tennessee USD 43,000
Texas USD 44,000
Utah USD 36,000
Vermont USD 40,000
Virginia USD 46,000
Washington USD 47,000
West Virginia USD 43,000
Wisconsin USD 41,000
Wyoming USD 38,000

Source: as of January 20, 2015. Figures are in US Dollars. 

Work Environment

  • A homicide detective works with the police department, and being a part of the force has never been easy.
  • You will need to keep an open mind, and your thinking caps need to be put on throughout.
  • Your hours may be regular, but it may be required that you work from home or may be, in complicated cases, you need to come to office even on the holidays. Wait a minute, holidays? Let’s get this clear, even if you have a leave, ideally a detective needs to be working at all odd hours; his mind needs to be on the job constantly.
  • You will have to deal with dead bodies, blood, and other gory scenes. You may have to meet different people and travel different places for investigation. You may need to testify in court, and even visit the labs to inquire about the autopsy reports.
  • Your professional life may take a toll on your personal life; while sacrifices can be made at times, you can learn how to balance your professional and personal life.

Though a homicide detective works regular hours, he will need to be alert 24 X 7. He will have to be present and start working every time a murder happens. He needs to be extremely cautious and keen on the job, keeping his senses alert for any proof. It is not easy to be like Sherlock Holmes, is it?

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