How to Become a Homicide Detective

The job of a homicide detective is to investigate deaths caused by overt criminal activities and deaths with unknown causes to rule out criminal activity. Homicide detectives are sworn law enforcement officers.

Responsibilities of a homicide detective include gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, conducting background checks on victims and possible suspects, identifying the responsible party, preparing cases for court and assisting in the successful prosecution of offenders. Working conditions vary greatly depending on the nature of the current investigation. A homicide detective must be prepared to work under any conditions.

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Homicide detectives are employed by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Depending on the size and geographic location of the agency, the detective’s jurisdiction may cover the entire agency’s geographical jurisdiction or a sector or portion of the area under that agency’s scope. The nature of the work can be very dangerous and stressful, so the detective must also be mentally and physically prepared for the tasks performed.

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How to Become a Homicide Detective

The minimum education requirements to become a homicide detective are a high school diploma, law enforcement certification, and experience as a sworn law enforcement officer. Many agencies, however, require that homicide detectives have at least a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice, forensic science or a related field and experience as a sworn law enforcement officer.

CJDS FACT: If you have no experience in law enforcement and want to be a homicide detective, you have to be realistic and work your way up the ranks in a department. CJDS suggests you review careers that can springboard you to be a homicide detective including police officer, deputy or crime scene investigator. The schools listed below will also help get you there.

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Homicide Detective Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that detectives and criminal investigators earn an average annual wage of $79,030.1

Homicide Detective Hiring & Career Outlook

The projected job growth for police and detectives is 5% for the period from 2012-2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2

Featured Schools with Criminal Justice Degrees

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American InterContinental University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Science

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Walden University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Law and Public Policy
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Justice Administration-Advanced
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - Public Management and Leadership-Advanced

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies

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Keiser University Graduate School
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice, MA (Online)

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Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Masters in Criminal Justice: Command College

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Post University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • B.S. in Human Services / Criminal Justice
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • B.S. in Criminal Justice

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California University of Pennsylvania
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MA in Social Science (Applied Criminology)


Related Careers

Research other law enforcement careers:

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.