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How to Become a Homicide Detective

Job Descriptions November 28, 2012

The job of a homicide detective involves investigating and solving murder or homicide cases. To this end, they are busy interviewing witnesses, compiling evidence, interrogating suspects and following leads. Their case is over when the suspect is arrested and convicted. It takes time to become an expert homicide detective and you cannot start this profession at the ground floor. Homicide detectives usually start out as police officers, and gain experience along with a promotion when they meet department requirements.

Ordinarily, a degree is not needed although a college education can enhance career options.  If you earn a degree, it should be geared towards law enforcement or criminal justice. Homicide detective must be able to multi-task and have an empathetic and observant nature while bringing considerable communication and leadership abilities to bear upon the job. Additionally, they are required to successfully pass a drug test, a criminal background check and need to be twenty-one years of age or over with serious physical fitness (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).

In this article, we will discuss the various steps you must take in order to become a homicide detective.

Stage One: Meeting of Department Standards

A high school diploma or its equivalent can get a potential homicide detective a police officer’s role; a few recruiters insist on college education. Aspiring detectives could aim for a bachelor or associate degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. Once the course is completed; students are prepared to undergo training in the police academy before beginning their police career. The degree courses will cover a wide range of subjects including investigative techniques, law enforcement procedures, court systems, forensics, evidence, legal procedures, and criminal law.

A candidate who can communicate in a foreign language will have an inherent advantage as a homicide detective (source: BLS). Hence, it makes sense to enroll into a foreign language class. The job of a homicide detective involves working with families, suspects and witnesses who may not speak English. The investigation would be hastened if the detective spoke in the language these people speak.

Stage Two: Becoming a Police Officer

Aspiring homicide detectives could request to join a police department. Applicants must be twenty-one or older and need to have at least a high school diploma along with a driver’s license related to the state you are living in and US citizenship. They must pass a criminal background check. They will become law enforcement officers once they complete training at a police academy chosen by the recruiter. Preparation of incident reports, writing traffic tickets and arresting after apprehension of suspects will be some of the responsibilities for these officers.

Stage Three: Getting a Promotion as Detective

Once you have a specific amount of experience, you will be eligible for a promotion to become a detective. In some departments, the requirements will vary, and the officers have to take an exam to get promoted while in others, the promotion decision are made on the basis of seniority along with job performance.

Step 4: Ongoing Training

Detectives and Police officers need to continue their education to enhance their career prospects. Coursework will include Law enforcement skills and procedures re-certification of firearms. Training workshops, seminars and continuing education classes are offered by different third-party vendors, professional associations and law enforcement agencies.

Step 5: Advancement in Rank

Homicide detectives belong to different ranks in some departments. Lower ranked detectives have their work overseen by higher-ranked detectives who have officers reporting to them. Ongoing training and experience will help a homicide detective rise in ranks.

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