What does a Crime Scene Investigator do?
Crime Scene Investigators are typically employed by law enforcement agencies or coroner’s offices to help identify and preserve evidence from crime scenes. They take written notes at the crime scene that they can then use in conjunction with photographs and other details to create a written report of what they saw. Their job is to survey the scene to identify any potential evidence like household objects, blood, hair or other bodily fluids. They also take preventative measures by wearing shoe coverings, gloves and sometimes even masks or hazmat suits. This is to make sure that they don’t contaminate the scene in any way.
Crime Scene Investigator skills and qualifications
A successful Crime Scene Investigator candidate has a combination of prerequisite skills and qualifications needed to perform their duties:
- Understanding of the law: Crime Scene Investigators often work with law enforcement agencies and use their knowledge of the law to follow strict protocol.
- Problem-solving: Crime Scene Investigators use their expertise in identifying evidence to help law enforcement determine what happened at the crime scene.
- Photography: While working the crime scene, Crime Scene Investigators document physical evidence through photography. They properly light areas that they photograph and take pictures from different angles.
- Attention to detail: Crime Scene Investigators look for physical evidence such as impressions, DNA and chemical evidence that may be barely noticeable or which may need to undergo a chemical test to be visible.
Crime Scene Investigator salary expectations
Crime Scene Technicians working in the United States make an average salary of $18.77 per hour. This estimate is based on the average salary of 234 Crime Scene Technicians, users and job advertisements submitted anonymously to Indeed in the last 36 months.
Crime Scene Investigator education and training requirements
A high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement to become a Crime Scene Investigator, but many law enforcement agencies require candidates to hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a natural science such as biology or chemistry. Those who have earned an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field can learn the fundamentals of crime scene investigation and management by completing a crime scene technician certification program. Crime Scene Investigators who work for a police department may need to complete police academy training and earn a license through their state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training program to become a sworn police officer.
Crime Scene Investigator experience requirements
Crime Scene Investigators need to be familiar with procedures such as processing evidence and testifying in court. Many positions require previous experience working as a Crime Scene Investigator, though entry-level candidates can gain professional experience in the field by completing an internship with a law enforcement group. Some programs of study require students to complete an internship so that they graduate with applicable experience.
Recent graduates can also gain experience by working in a similar work environment in positions such as a crime scene custodian, police officer or dispatcher. Many Crime Scene Investigator jobs require candidates to obtain a Certified Crime Scene Investigator certificate through the International Association for Identification (IAI), which Crime Scene Investigators can complete after a year working in the profession.
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