How do I Become a Homicide Detective?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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Thanks in part to the way they are portrayed in the media, many people grow up wanting to become a homicide detective. In North America, a detective is an experienced law enforcement officer who has typically completed a combination of educational requirements and a detective examination. This type of position is considered a promotion from officer or constable, which is an entry-level position in almost all police forces in the world.

Upon successful promotion to the rank of detective, he or she is now eligible to apply for positions within the police or law enforcement department. Homicide is a department that is responsible for the investigation of wrongful deaths. This category includes murder, vehicular homicide, or death due to neglect. Successfully securing a position is this department is the only way to become a homicide detective.

In the media, a homicide detective is portrayed as someone who is working on one case at a time, interacts with a variety of colleagues and support staff, and is successful in identifying the suspect, locating him, and bringing the case to trial. In order to fulfill this dream and become a homicide detective, candidates must complete a specialized training program, pass the preliminary record checks, and obtain relevant experience.


In order to become a homicide detective, most people complete a college or university program in law enforcement. Alternatively, candidates can complete the training program at a private police college. This basic training is necessary to qualify for a position in a law enforcement agency or police department. The purpose of this educational requirement is to ensure candidates have a certain degree of maturity, can meet the intellectual requirements of this position, and are able to pass a series of personality, physical, and mental health evaluations.

All homicide detectives must have a clean criminal record, with no felonies or violent crimes. The exact requirements vary by department and state. Additional checks are completed as part of the application process, such as substance abuse and credit checks. All candidates should read the policy on drug and alcohol screening, as these tests are becoming more prevalent as part of the application process, during the training program, and as a condition of employment.

Related experience is typically obtained through work as a police constable. Other positions that contain transferable skills include army sergeant, air force cadet, security officer, or related position. Talk to the police human resources department to determine exactly what experience is required to become a homicide detective.


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