Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.
At crime scenes, crime scene investigators typically do the following:
- Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
- Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
- Make sketches of the crime scene
- Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
- Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
- Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab
Applicants for non-uniform crime scene investigator jobs at larger law enforcement agencies should have a bachelor's degree in either forensic science or a natural science. Many crime scene investigators are sworn police officers and have met educational requirements necessary for admittance to the police academy.
- Major in biology or forensic biology with heavy coursework in chemistry, physics and mathematics.
- Take electives in criminal justice, but not at the expense of science courses.
- Pursue internships involving field work and investigation.
- Take elective courses in law enforcement, criminal justice and crime scene processing
- A master's degree could make you more competitive for jobs in certain jurisdictions. Look for a program that emphasizes laboratory science and research, including interaction with working forensic laboratories. Here's a listing of accredited master's level degrees in forensic science.
Median Salary 2023
According to the salary.com, the average salary of Crime Scene Investigators in 2023 was $49,318.
Want to know more?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics-Forensic Science Technicians
- Explore Health Care Careers
- Education Portal
Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Society for Microbiology
- American Chemical Society
- American Society for Crime Lab Directors
- List of Professional Organizations
Websites for some of the state and federal programs include:
- Central Intelligence Agency Internship Program
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Internship Programs
- United States Department of Justice Internships
*You may also want to check with private forensic labs to see if they have internships available.
Forensic science volunteer programs
When you join a volunteer program, you will not receive any salary or compensation, but you will learn valuable lessons that can be applied to your forensic training. The volunteer programs will likely be related to basic criminal justice or law enforcement, as opposed to actually "practicing" any forensic science. Such programs will, however, give you an introduction to the criminal justice field and acquaint you with some forensic scientists. As a forensic science volunteer, you will also provide valuable help to law enforcement professionals and the community.
To find an opportunity, contact your municipal police department or county sheriff's office and inquire about volunteer programs. They will likely have a program that will provide you with experience as a registration aide, victim assistor, data entry clerk, or another job. Though this work may not be specifically related to forensics, you will gain a valuable introduction to the world of criminal justice.
Forensic science research programs
To join a forensic science research program, you should check with private laboratories and businesses in addition to traditional colleges and universities. There are many options available in the private sector.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Board of Criminalistics
- American Board of Forensic Entomology
- American Board of Forensic Toxicology
- Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners
- Forensic Science Society
- Microscopy Society of America
- Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists
- Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
- Society of Forensic Toxicologists
- Research & Internship Listings
Find a Job
Information retrieved from ExploreHealthCareers.org: Forensic Biologist and Bureau of Labor Statistics: Forensic Science Technicians.
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