Most police departments require homicide detectives to hold a college degree in criminal justice or law in addition to passing a police officer training program. Many departments require homicide detective candidates to pass a general detectives' examination. While the majority of police departments require homicide detectives to have several years of experience as a police officer prior to their promotion, the amount of time varies from three to five years.
As the major investigators in any homicide case in their jurisdiction, homicide detectives are responsible for overseeing the entire investigation, from gathering evidence, to recording eyewitness accounts. They must also be properly trained to interrogate murder suspects.
Criminal justice courses introduce those wanting a career as a homicide detective to the criminal justice system and teach analytical skills, understanding of criminal behavior and common crime strategies. These classes also often give an overview of the various philosophies pertaining to rehabilitation and punishment of convicts.
Classes focusing on police studies give students hoping for a career in a police department's homicide division a solid understanding of United States law enforcement, from its origins to its modern form. The courses cover the ethical issues many police officers regularly face, including use of deadly force and appropriate conduct at a crime scene.