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How long does it take to become a homicide detective on average?

I am a freshman in high school and I am interested in becoming a homicide detective. Could you please advise me on the amount of time it typically takes to become one, as well as what studies would be most beneficial for me to pursue?

Thank you comment icon I concur with Michelle and Dan. As a first responder you are the first investigator on scene. Steps you take can be crucial and lay the foundation for a successful investigation. Seek out a department that places an emphasis on training. Develop your writing/communication skills. James Hammond

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Subject: Career question for you

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Michelle’s Answer

To be a Homicide Detective can take several years. Typically most law enforcement agencies require you to be a police officer for several years. Most police academies are the starting point of a police officer's career. The academy can be 6 weeks to several months long depending on the department. You have 2 options, you can go into a police department or a sheriff's office. Both types of law enforcement agencies/departments have lengthy applications processes. You must have a high school diploma or GED. You will have to pass a written test, a physical exam and a psychological examination - usually a polygraph test.
I know at my Sheriff's Office, the initial academy requires you to be a Detention Officer for several years, then you can take an exam for going to the Patrol Officer academy - to become a Deputy. If you make it through that application process and academy, then you are a Deputy Sheriff. After several years of that, then you can take an exam for Detective. If you make it through this exam, there is typically a list of 5 or 6 persons who have passed the exam, then if there is an opening, you are given a Detective position. You may not be a Homicide Detective right away. You may have to work property crimes or narcotics crimes before you can transfer to Homicide.
I don't know the process in the police department for becoming a Detective, but I do know that after several years as a patrol officer, you have the opportunity to take the exam for Detective. Again, I am sure you have to do other areas of crime fighting as a Detective before getting to the Homicide Section.
Usually, being a Detective in the Homicide Section is after years of working other areas. Having a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice or Forensics will help you get into the Homicide Section faster. If you go the police department route, you may have to be a Crime Scene Technician (as an Officer) or a Crime Scene Investigator, depending on how they title the crime scene people. With the Sheriff's Office where I work at, working in the Crime Scene Section does not help, as we are civilian employees (not law enforcement officers).
So, the short version of my answer is, it may take you 4 - 5 years (or longer) of police work to get to the point where you can test for Detective. And then several more years as a Detective in another area before you can transfer into Homicide. But that is not a guarantee that you will be a Homicide Detective.
I hope I was able to help you out. Best of luck to you in your endeavors.

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

Check your local police department or Sheriff's Office on becoming a law enforcement officer.
Look at your State Law Enforcement agencies for their law enforcement process. You can be a Trooper/ Investigator (like a Detective) who processes homicides.
Look at the Federal level - FBI, DEA, ATF, etc. They have investigators and they also deal with homicides.
Get your Bachelor's Degree in Forensics or Criminal Justice.
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Dan’s Answer

I agree with a lot of what Michelle said. As someone who works for a decent-sized police department, I can tell you it could take 2 years to go to Homicide or it could take 10 years. Either way, you're going to have to do time on the road, answering calls & working wrecks. This will give you good experience because as a uniformed officer, you are usually the first one on scene & basically start the investigation. Normally, you can stay & watch the detectives work, too. You'll also work burglaries on your own, which will give you investigation experience. I would recommend becoming a property crimes detective first (if the agency you end up working for has that - some small agencies have detectives that do everything). This will give you the training & experience you need to move to Homicide. Good luck!
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