Crime scene investigators are forensic science technicians that assist in the processing of crime scenes. They collect, preserve, package, transport, and document physical evidence in scenes that range from burglaries to homicides. While some agencies and organizations only require crime scene investigators to have a high school diploma, the majority of employers prefers candidate to receive postsecondary education. If you aspire to play an important role in safeguarding those around you, you should consider attending one of the many crime scene investigation schools in the country.
Overview of Crime Scene Investigation Degrees
Crime scene investigation degrees are offered at the certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Some of these programs are also available online or in a flexible course format. While crime scene investigation can be a stand-alone major, it is also often available as a specialty within forensic science or criminal justice.
The requirements for crime scene investigation colleges vary depending on the degree level that you pursue. Undergraduate degrees will require a high school diploma or GED with a minimum required GPA, as well as courses in the natural sciences, such as anatomy, chemistry, and biology. Graduate degrees will typically require a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences, criminal justice or forensic science.
Certificate programs typically last one year, while associate’s degrees can take two years to complete, and bachelor’s degrees can be finished in four years. Master’s degrees require two years of additional study after the bachelor’s degree.
Curriculum at Crime Scene Investigation Colleges
Crime scene investigation training varies by degree, institution, and focus, but the majority combines courses with laboratory practicums. The curriculum will include study in science, evidence procedures, and law, amongst many other topics.
Crime Scene Investigation Classes
Below is a list of courses you may expect to take during your program:
- Crime scene evidence & law procedures
- Crime scene investigation
- Criminological theory
- Fingerprinting science
- Forensic science
- Forensic report writing
- Homicide investigation
- Introduction to criminal justice
- Crime scene photography
- Rules of evidence
In order to study crime scene investigation, you should exhibit a combination of strong technical and soft skills. This is a field that requires solid math and science knowledge, as well as excellent communication skills and strategic thinking. Beyond that, you may want to gain some experience in photography and writing, as it will serve you well in the field.
Career Outlook for Crime Scene Investigators
Crime scene investigators collect physical evidence at crime scenes. They may assess the crime scene to determine how the evidence should be collected, make sketches or photographs of the crime scene, record observations, catalog the evidence so that it can be analyzed at a lab, and prepare written reports on their findings.
Crime scene investigators find opportunities in a variety of federal, state, and local agencies through all areas and regions in the country. Many crime scene investigators are also sworn law enforcement officers. The nature of the job requires a number of hours spent on the field, so you may spend much of your time out on the road. Work hours tend to vary and require flexibility and availability to work odd hours and overtime during pressing cases.
In 2013, the median annual wage for crime scene investigators was $54,260. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of forensic science technicians should grow only 6% from 2012 to 2012. In recent years competition for jobs in the field has increased with the attention of popular media. That same attention may have also contributed to a growing expectation for forensic evidence in criminal proceedings. In the future, more criminal investigators will be needed to meet the demand for forensic evidence in law enforcement agencies and courts.
Exploring Crime Scene Investigation Programs
If you are eager to contribute to solving and fighting crime and would like to be part of a new generation of crime scene investigators, explore the crime investigation schools featured throughout this site.