5 Steps to Become a Homicide Detective in Canada

Do you want to be the Canadian Sherlock Holmes? Find out what it takes in our latest article.

In 2020, Canada had a homicide rate of around 1.95 deaths due to homicide per 100,000 residents. In helping to investigate these deaths, bring the perpetrator to justice and give families the closure they desperately need, homicide detectives, play a very vital role in Canadian Law Enforcement. If you want to become a homicide detective in Canada and help crack the mysteries behind unnatural deaths, this article is for you.

In this article

Who is a Homicide Detective?

Homicide Detectives are members of law enforcement agencies, whose job is primarily to investigate and successfully identify murderers. Then, they go further to help the prosecution form a case against murder suspects.  At the crime scene, homicide detectives work alongside Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) to analyse the evidence present. Beyond the crime scene, they spend a lot of time interrogating suspects, as well as other people including family members of victims to help form a clearer picture of the crime.

Homicide detectives aid legal professionals, especially the police prosecution team and may also be summoned to court to give expert testimony and shed light on the evidence presented in court. In advanced countries like Canada, they are often highly skilled operatives with extensive knowledge in behavioural psychology, forensics and criminal law. They utilize scientific tools alongside logic and professional ethics in resolving murder cases.

Responsibilities of a Homicide Detective

We’ve already stated above, a homicide detective’s basic responsibilities. However, for the sake of clarity, let us present them in list format. It is a homicide detective’s responsibility to;

  • Analyse evidence at a crime scene with help from a CSI.
  • Interrogate possible witnesses, victim’s family, friends, etc. They also look up phone records, card usage details and anything else that could help.
  • Look up the victim’s history and determine those who may have been in the best position to murder them, and why.
  • Generate a list of suspects, bring them in for questioning and narrow them down. The list is usually generated using the MMO rule (means, motive, and opportunity).
  • Arrest the perpetrator upon confirmation and help the legal team build a case to incarcerate them.
  • Filing a report as a case goes on and concluding it once it is closed.
  • Finally, if need be, they could testify in court based on their findings.

Is being a Homicide Detective a good career in Canada?

There’s no denying becoming a homicide detective in Canada puts you in one of the riskiest lines of business. However, homicide detectives are some of Canada’s most important careers in law enforcement. Not only do they get to solve crimes, but their work also contributes to the advancement of peace and justice, reduces crime and thus makes Canada a safer place for work and play. The median salary for detectives in Canada is CA$72,617 per year.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime underscores the following:

  1. High homicide rates can severely impact young people’s educational performance, limiting their economic options and leading them to engage in violent or criminal conduct.
  2. Crime and economic growth are intertwined, and a high degree of violence, for example, can lower property prices and stifle company growth, both of which increase poverty.

At the International Association of Police Chiefs meeting in 2019, 78% of law enforcement agencies surveyed reported difficulty in recruiting qualified personnel for detective and other law enforcement positions. So, if you aspire to be a homicide detective, and go on to obtain the required credentials, you will surely be in demand.

How to Become a Homicide Detective in Canada.

To become a homicide detective, you must first join the Royal Canadian police. However, even before joining the police, you must complete training at the Police academy. After that, you will need to gain some years of experience before applying for the role of detective. Usually, a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice or Criminology would be an added advantage in applying for a detective position. Read on to know what you are to do to become the next Sherlock Holmes!

Step 1: Get your Bachelor’s

You don’t need a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice to become a police officer. However, it may well go a long way to help. To be eligible for such chances, it is necessary to combine the abilities earned from this type of degree program with extensive on-the-job training and experience.

By blending theoretical learning with field-based education, criminal justice degree programs enable students to investigate crime as a social phenomenon. Furthermore, some programs allow students to receive credits toward a bachelor’s degree if they complete police academy training. 

Step 2: Police Academy Admission

Aspiring policemen start their careers in the force at police academies all over the world.  In Canada, it is no different. Aspiring detectives enrol in the police academy, many of them with a degree in criminal justice, which while not a requirement is certainly helpful in attaining promotion to higher offices within the force. Understand that in some jurisdictions, the police force only allows hired cadets to attend the academy. This prevents citizens who do not wish to become police officers from gaining access to sensitive information.

Speak with a member of your local police department for more information and the necessary procedure. Cadets may attend a state, municipal, community, or institute-based police academy, depending on their jurisdiction. Academy training includes coursework, practical training, and intensive physical and psychological training. Typical education includes, among other things, first aid, investigative methods, motor vehicle law, patrol procedures, emergency driving techniques, criminal law, defensive tactics, and weaponry. Training can last from 12 weeks to 12 months depending on the academy and jurisdiction.

Step 3: Gain some experience.

You are now in the force. However, to become a homicide detective in Canada, you need real-world training. Real-world training can begin with a local police department’s homicide section and may require interacting with neighbouring departments. On-the-job training in law enforcement often includes shadowing experienced officers. Hence, you could meet unanticipated situations that necessitate quick, decisive, and efficient reactions.

Police officers and homicide detectives develop a wide range of skills through training. These include; ability to observe and assess a murder scene, clearly document the circumstances, analyze evidence acquired by CSIs, canvass the area, and properly manage suspects, etc. However, do not expect to just be sorted into the Homicide department once you are done with the academy or just because you applied to the local homicide department.

Step 4: Working Your Way Up

Beginning with parole police officers get to show their competence as a fourth-class constable and work their way up the ladder. You must demonstrate bravery, a certain level of wit and efficiency when dealing with petty crime before being considered for promotion.

You may need to write a couple of more exams and pass a few fitness tests as well. However, one major requirement is that you have a minimum of 5 years’ experience in the force. At some point around the second- or first-class stage, you may be offered the chance to work in the Detective office (also called the Criminal Investigation Bureau) for 6 months or more where you will likely be paired up with a Detective to gain more experience.

At 5 years, you could become a sergeant after a few interviews and screening processing. A year on, and you could either be invited or apply to become a detective. If your application is successful; congratulations!

Step 5: Growing on the Job

Criminals invent new ways every day to comit crimes. Therefore, your duty as a detective is to remain on your toes and stay ahead of the curve. It would be foolish to think just because you read books and passed interviews, you’ve become a great detective. The best way to learn the job is on the job, and detectives usually age like fine wine. At the start, you will be paired with a more experienced partner; both of you will solve cases together, while you grow in your career. Hence, the more you solve cases, the better you get at solving cases.

Requirements to Become a Homicide Detective in Canada

Other requirements to meet if you wish to become a homicide detective in Canada include;

  • Canadian citizenship or permanent residency.
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Understanding human behaviour and psychology.
  • Written and oral communication skills.
  • Physical fitness.
  • Deep understanding of criminal law within their jurisdiction (federal, provincial, municipal, etc.)’
  • No ongoing criminal case; a clear record would stand out even better.
  • At least fundamental knowledge in forensic science principles and digital data analysis.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Computer skills; it’s the 21st century and you don’t want to a cybercriminal to outsmart you.
  • Minute-eye for detail.
  • Standard First Aid and Level C C.P.R. training
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Use of firearms and other approved weapons.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in criminal Justice, criminology or psychology.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Detectives in Demand in Canada

Detectives are one of the rather balanced careers in Canada where demand is nearly equal to supply. Hence, if you become a police officer and put in the work/years to become detective, chances you’ll get it are around 50%

Can you become a detective without a degree?

Yes, you can. However, having a degree opens certain doors quickly for your and helps you increases your career ceiling in the field. Therefore, if you can get a degree, it is advisable you do so.

Is there an FBI department in Canada?

Well, the FBI is a United States organisation. However, the Canadian equivalent of the FBI is the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).


Whether you want a stable livelihood or you wish to contribute your quota to making Canada a place where people can live and work in safety, a career in law enforcement as a Homicide detective is a great way to go.