- What do crime scene investigators do?
- Crime scene investigator career path
- Crime scene investigator salaries
- Qualifications & training
- Crime scene investigator skills
- Pros and cons of being in crime scene investigator
- Crime scene investigator work-life balance
- Related jobs
Do you like to get to the bottom of a puzzle? Do you want a career helping to bring justice to those who’ve been wronged? If you’re inquisitive and analytical, a career as a crime scene investigator could be perfect for you.
What does a crime scene investigator do?
Crime scene investigators methodically explore and record crime scenes with the ultimate goal of understanding what has happened and why. If the police deem that the events that led to the crime were not an accident or someone is at fault, the evidence gathered can lead to a suspect and hopefully result in a conviction. Whilst the tasks that you have depend on the specific crime scene you’re working on and what has happened, here are the general duties that you have as a crime scene investigator:
- Capturing evidence with a camera, including footprints, blood splatters, fingerprints and any other detail that could be relevant to the investigation
- Gathering evidence, for example, items with DNA evidence on it that a suspect may have touched
- Coordinating with colleagues on which area of the crime scene to be responsible for
- Labelling the evidence making sure to comply with regulations and follow all guidelines
- Conducting lab work on the evidence and making conclusions about the crime based on the results of the lab work
Crime scene investigator career path
Being a crime scene investigator and working in the criminal area exposes you to many jobs in the sector. If you enjoy working with crime but want to move away from the scientific aspect of the job, you could become a detective or work in the police force. If you prefer the legal aspect, you could completely retrain and become a barrister, solicitor or paralegal in the criminal area of law. Here is the traditional career path associated with crime scene investigators:
You begin your career as a crime scene investigator in a junior or entry-level position. This includes a training element where you learn the best practices of being a crime scene investigator by working in the role with more senior colleagues. Your work may be monitored by others to make sure you’re not missing any crucial detail or working against guidelines or regulations. With time and experience, you become more trusted and move away from an entry-level position.
With experience, you become a senior crime scene investigator. In this role, you oversee the work and make sure your colleagues are picking up on important details. You conduct more complex work in the lab and help your colleagues to come to reasonable and accurate conclusions about evidence that has been gathered.
You could progress to a crime scene manager in your future career. As a crime scene manager, you take a step back from the investigatory work and instead assist with the bigger picture. This means directing colleagues on their work in a crime scene and making sure that everyone complies with the relevant regulations for the work.
Crime scene investigator salaries
- In an entry-level position, you earn between £22,000 and £30,000 per year
- As a senior crime scene investigator, you could earn up to £50,000 per year
Qualifications and training
You join the crime scene investigator career path by having the right education and experience. Here are the qualifications and training that you need to begin working as a crime scene investigator:
You can complete a diploma or other college courses to become a crime scene investigator. A diploma in crime scene investigation teaches you the relevant information and background knowledge that you need for the job alongside how to complete practical and lab-based work that you do on a regular basis in the job.
Some people going into the field have a degree. This isn’t a requirement of the job but could help you develop your skills and have a more general understanding of the field and how your job fits into it. Relevant degrees include criminology, forensic science and biology.
Having some work experience is a great way of boosting your application to a job. It shows that you have an understanding of the role, you can work well in the field and you have started developing the skills you need for the job. One way of getting work experience is through an internship.
Crime scene investigator skills
Combining your experience with an applicable skillset helps you secure a role in the sector. You can develop these skills through your education, work experience or even on the job. Having examples of when you’ve demonstrated these skills and being able to prove this can help your application stand out. Here are the skills you need to be a crime scene investigator:
- Regulation knowledge. You should have a good understanding of the regulations surrounding crime scenes and how to follow them. This could be vitally important as a mislabeled bag or a broken rule could lead to evidence being dismissed in court.
- Analytical ability. You need to be analytically-minded and methodical. This helps you work your way through a crime scene in an ordered and logical way so you can make sure not to miss any detail that could be important.
- Resilience. Being a crime scene investigator requires a good level of resilience. Part of your work may include seeing some upsetting consequences of crime. You should be able to accept this aspect of the work and not let it get in the way of your important work in catching those who committed the crime in the first place.
Pros and cons of being a crime scene investigator
As with any career, there are positive and negative aspects of being a crime scene investigator. Here is what you should consider before joining the career:
- Your job is hugely important to the criminal system. You provide evidence that could convict people guilty of committing crimes who would otherwise have been let off. This can make the work incredibly satisfying.
- You work on different crimes frequently meaning the job is diverse with a lot of range in terms of your workload.
- Your work could include seeing distressing or upsetting outcomes of crime.
- You might have to work in adverse conditions depending on where the crime was committed.
- Your work could be at any time of the day, depending on when a crime is committed and found. This could mean being on call to go to a crime scene late at night. This reason for this is so the evidence isn’t lost, tampered with or becomes invalid through being left for a while.
Crime scene investigator work-life balance
Maintaining a good work-life balance can be difficult as a crime scene investigator. This is partly because of the hours that you work. You may work on crimes that require a great deal of focus and are time-sensitive, meaning long working days and weeks. You may also be called out to a crime scene late at night. This can add a level of unpredictability to your work and life.
Another aspect of the job that can make separating your work and home life difficult depends on the type of crime you’re investigating. If you frequently work with violent crimes or murders, you may be distressed by what you’ve seen and need to work with a psychologist to move on in a positive way from the experience.