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What Does a Crime Scene Investigator Do?

The Crime Scene Investigation degree – such as a bachelor’s or master’s in forensic science – is typically the first step toward becoming a Crime Scene Investigator. While it’s true that the bare minimum qualifications for a position as a Crime Scene Investigator, most law enforcement agencies look for candidates who have at least an associate’s or bachelor’s in Criminal Justice or one of the natural sciences for the Crime Scene Investigation degree.

Attaining a Crime Scene Investigation degree also means that the candidate received additional education, lab work, as well as other specialized coursework. An educated candidate is typically better prepared for the demands of the job. Areas of specialization that are most helpful to Crime Scene Investigation involve a forensic science degree, which include areas of study in forensic anthropology and digital forensics. 

What is Crime Scene Investigator Training?

Crime Scene Investigator Training often involves the Police Academy, since many positions require that the person is a sworn police officer with appropriate license in the Peace Officer Standards and Training. In lieu of the academy, some colleges, sheriff’s departments, and other institutions may offer police officer training that could also apply toward prerequisites for Crime Scene Investigator training qualifications. Crime Scene Investigator training can also be achieved through certification programs. Ultimately, every candidate must gain the hands-on experience in the field to be prepared and qualified for a position as a Crime Scene Investigator. 

What is Crime Scene Investigator Education?

Crime Scene Investigator education involves an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, a natural science like Chemistry, or Forensic Science. The required hands-on knowledge and experience is typically achieved via an internship where the intern assists a police officer or other law enforcement person in processing the scenes of crimes. These internships are often required as part of some degree programs, particularly in graduate programs. 

A candidate can tap into the required Crime Scene Investigator education via other related work that involves many of the same skills. Work as a dispatcher, laboratory technician, or evidence custodian can be a stepping stone to work as a Crime Scene Investigator.  As part of the Crime Scene Investigator education, the candidate may need to earn a credential from the International Association for Identification (IAI), which involves a year of on-the-job work experience and an exam.  

Why is Crime Scene Forensics Important? 

Crime Scene forensics is important because those pieces of physical evidence often offer key insights into what happened, how it happened, and who was responsible.  A Crime Scene Investigator gathers the crime scene forensics, and then it is analyzed in a crime laboratory. When investigators follow the leads offered up by the physical evidence that is part of the crime scene forensics, they are often able to catch the perpetrator and bring them to justice in a court of law. 

What are Some Main Crime Scene Investigator Responsibilities?

Crime Scene Investigator responsibilities include a range of physical activities, including processing the scene of the crime for evidence, taking clear and comprehensive photographs of the crime scene, carefully labeling the evidence, cataloging the evidence, packaging the samples, and transporting as much of the crime scene as possible.  The Crime Scene Investigator responsibilities may also involve reports and briefings that are delivered to the investigators. One of the most critical tasks Crime Scene Investigator responsibilities is that of preparing for trial and testifying in a court room under oath. The Crime Scene Investigator description involves gathering evidence and using all the knowledge and training at their disposal to come to conclusions about the evidence. 

What is the Crime Scene Investigator Salary?

The Crime Scene Forensics jobs usually earn an average of $58,230 per year, with a moderate amount of on-the-job training. The Crime Scene Investigator description only really scratches the surface of what is possible with a background and education in forensics and crime scene investigation. The field is growing by 14% right now, which offers a great range of possibilities for those curious individuals who want to solve the mysteries, bring criminals to justice, and push beyond the bare basics that the Crime Scene Investigator description might mention. 

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