Homicide detectives are plainclothes investigators who specialize in gathering facts and collecting evidence for criminal cases involving murder. Most of the work involves conducting interviews, examining records, monitoring the activities of suspects and participating in raids or arrests. Cases are assigned on a rotating basis, and homicide detectives work on them until they result in an arrest or conviction, or until the case is dropped. They may be assigned to interagency task forces, when, for instance, a murder incident involves other areas of crime investigation, such as narcotics. A police detective’s career can be very dangerous and stressful. Officers need to be constantly alert and ready to deal with a range of threatening situations, including violence from suspected criminals. The experience of being present at murder scenes can be acutely stressful.
Obtain your high school diploma or your GED. Education is important when you want to enter the law enforcement field, and the more education you have, the faster you can climb the ranks to homicide detective.
Earn a college degree in criminal justice or a related field. Police officers with college educations are far more likely to be promoted to homicide detective, and they also earn a much higher rate of pay. If you really want to advance quickly, obtain a master's degree as well.
Attend the police academy (or law enforcement academy) for the jurisdiction where you want to work. Learn everything you can about police procedures and law enforcement tactics, and let your superiors know right away that you are interested in advancing to homicide detective. This can put you on the fast track to success.
Know that some jurisdictions require cadets to first be hired by a police department before they can attend a police academy. This way, civilians who don't intend to become police officers aren't given access to sensitive information. Talk to a representative of your local police department for more information and for the proper procedure.
Outperform your fellow officers in uniform, while concentrating on learning as much as you can about law enforcement and the law in general. Most people have to stay in uniform for at least 3 years before they are offered a promotion, so don't expect to immediately be given the title of detective.
Accept your promotion to detective within your law enforcement agency. It is doubtful that you will immediately be placed in homicide, since police officers need to acquire important skills in investigation before they handle those difficult cases. Instead, you will probably need to work in a less complex division for 6 months to 2 years.
Continue to work diligently toward achieving your career goals. Work extra overtime, put in extra effort where other detectives slack off and never be afraid to ask questions. This is the best path toward becoming a homicide detective.