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What All You Need to Know to Become a Homicide Detective

What All You Need to Know to Become a Homicide Detective

A homicide detective investigates and collects proof to expose criminals. CareerStint tells you what all you need to know to become a homicide detective.
CareerStint Staff
"Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective."
― John Buchan

There is really no end to the detective programs we watch on television, is there? Everyone of us has probably fantasized holding a gun, sitting in an office, thinking about clues, piecing them together, catching the murderer in the most heroic way possible, and then walking off with elan! Well, wake up and smell the coffee, because this is not a fantasy, this is reality. It takes a long time to become a detective, and even after you become one, you need to work very hard; in fact you need to work smart, to think about finding clues and helping the police solve murder cases. If you intend to be an investigator on the force (or private), the paragraphs below will tell you how to become a homicide detective.
Job Profile
  • A homicide detective collects evidence from the murder site.
  • He interviews witnesses and notes down important information.
  • He finds out important information related to the murder from the laboratory results.
  • The job description also includes conducting an investigation on the victim and his near and dear ones, to find out if there is an obvious motive for his murder.
  • He helps prepare the case for the court hearing, and he may even be called to the court for a testimony.
  • He conducts a background check on the suspects and draws conclusions.
  • He keeps the police abreast of the case development and helps them prosecute the offenders.
Basic Skills

Some of the homicide detective requirements are enlisted below:
  • Presence of mind
  • Responsibility
  • Physical and mental strength
  • A good sense of judgment
  • A keen, analytical mind
  • Inquisitive attitude
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership
Qualifications

Education
  • A college education is not compulsory for this field, but nevertheless, it is very helpful to understand the job.
  • After high school, a Bachelor's degree in subjects, like criminal justice, criminal behavior, police studies, criminology, undercover operations, law enforcement, etc., will be a good start.
  • You can even have an Associate's degree if you do not want a Bachelor's.
  • Your degree course, however, will cover a wider range of subjects, including forensic studies and other legal procedures.
  • As detectives need to carry on the investigation, studying a foreign language would be very beneficial. It is not mandatory of course, but it is always helpful.
  • In case you plan to be a private investigator after several years of experience, the knowledge of a foreign language will help you.
  • Apart from a regular college degree, there are many other courses that you might want to consider, which might be useful for you.
  • You can consider a certification in forensic studies; it can be very important in detective work.
  • Computer training will be a good option, as you will need to investigate records in the course of your work.
  • You will be learning about legal procedures anyway, but you may consider some advanced classes in law as well.
  • A thorough knowledge of police processes and regulations will be impressive before you undertake training.
  • Such courses help you move faster in your career and get better promotions.
  • Once your studies are done, you can enroll in a police academy for training.
Training
  • You will undergo a stringent training program at the police academy.
  • You will learn how to defend yourself, use firearms, first aid, learn traffic control, civil rights, etc.
  • You will have to complete theory and practical assignments.
  • You will not start investigating right away; to begin with, you will work as a police officer, perhaps writing traffic tickets and performing related job duties.
  • You will undergo a lot of physical training tests to make you strong and resistant to attacks.
  • Your statistical, mathematical, and verbal skills will be tested and honed to suit the necessary requirements.
  • You will serve as a police officer for quite a few years, and then be promoted to the rank of a detective.
  • You have to give an exam for the same, after which you will be a legally registered homicide detective.
Others
  • Your license and other documents need to be updated and in proper order.
  • You need to have all your documents when you enroll in the police academy.
  • You need to undergo a thorough background check, drug test, and alcohol test.
  • Your driving record needs to be clean, and you should not have a record of being in trouble with the law prior to your training.
Salary
  • A homicide detective is usually very well-paid, right from the entry-level position.
  • As per the BLS, the average salary was approximately USD 60,000, more than half a decade back. The salary range was between USD 35,000 to USD 100,000.
  • The average salary in 2012 was between USD 55,000 to USD 110,000.
  • The pay scale is slightly lower as of today.
Job Outlook
  • A couple of years back, the job growth rate for this field was more than 10%.
  • As of today, the BLS predicts a job growth rate of just 3% over the next decade, which is remarkably lower than the other careers.
  • There could be several reasons for a decline in the job growth; perhaps the candidates do not meet all the requirements - physical, educational, and psychological.
  • The job of a homicide detective is tough and hectic; therefore, if you do not have the right approach and mindset, it would be better to not to go in for this career at all.
The job of a homicide detective is tedious and demanding. Those who enjoy this kind of work though, will find this career job fulfilling and intriguing. Do not imagine though, that you will start getting clues immediately, will solve the case, and become a hero. This kind of a thing happens on television, not in real life. It might take you years to get tuned to the intricacies of the job and develop a fine sense of judgment and analysis. Until then, you've got to keep trying, thinking, and working. Good luck!