Crime scene investigators have gotten a lot of publicity in TV dramas like CSI, but their job description is much more specific than managing an entire case. Lead investigators depend on their crime scene investigators to help them uncover, document and handle all physical evidence found at the crime scene. This responsibility includes everything from searching buildings, vehicles, city streets, businesses, homes, and other environments where a crime has taken place or may have taken place. In order to find evidence crime scene investigators must photograph and/or sketch the scene, take samples of blood or body fluids, pick up hair samples, finger prints and other pieces of evidence that may be related to the crime. All of these materials must be carefully marked, recorded and handled so as not to interfere with the investigation or compromise any incriminating pieces of evidence. Once the physical crime scene has been thoroughly examined, crime scene investigators will also assist the medical examiner if evidence needs to be retrieved from the victim’s body, if there is a dead victim. Through this entire process, crime scene investigators must be able to communicate effectively with police officers, lawyers, detectives, medical examiners, judges and other law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. They need to have a strong practical knowledge of photography, sketching, and of course, forensics. Because crimes happen at all times during the day and night, crime scene investigators must take on extra overtime shifts or on-call shifts as scheduled by the department.
Top Crime Scene Investigator Programs
Crime scene investigators can expect to make around $35,000 if they are employed by a law enforcement agency, but this amount varies based on geographical location, education and number of years in the field. Benefits like paid vacation and holidays, as well as health insurance and life insurance plans can also be expected from a job as a crime scene investigator.
Crime scene investigators must be highly trained, well-educated professionals. While a bachelor’s degree is often the minimum educational requirement for these positions, the most sought-after jobs prefer a higher degree in a field like forensic science or criminal justice. If you choose to get a Master’s degree in criminal justice, look for a program that offers a concentration in forensics or crime scene investigation. With this specialized degree, you will increase your chances of becoming a crime scene investigator, earning a higher salary, and getting promoted in the future.