The Path to Crime Scene Investigation Careers

July 29th, 2014 by

Find Your CareerMany recent television shows and movies have glamorized the career of crime scene investigator. In realty, the job entails a lot of hard work and dedication, but it can also be intensely rewarding for the right person.

If you are interested in becoming an integral part of the criminal justice system, you have an interest in solving crimes and you are detail-oriented, then pursuing a career in the world of crime scene investigation could be a smart option.

Discover more about what this job entails, what kind of degree you need in order to secure a career, what skills are necessary for the best crime scene investigators and where to pursue a degree in the field.

Understanding the Role of a Crime Scene Investigator

In a nutshell, a crime scene investigator is responsible for gathering evidence at a crime scene. They accomplish this by taking extensive photographs of the area, picking up anything that could be used as evidence, dusting for fingerprints and then packaging up everything that is found securely.

Crime scene investigators might also be responsible for transporting the photographs and evidence to laboratories or crime labs where everything can be closely analyzed in order to narrow down the suspects or find out what happened on the scene.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of a crime scene investigator: Without these individuals, it would be incredibly difficult to bring criminals to justice.

Some crime scene investigators are also known as forensic science technicians while others are known as crime scene detectives because they also work closely with the evidence to solve the crimes away from the crime scene itself.

Choosing the Right Degree for this Career

For almost every position in the field of crime scene investigation, a degree is required. However, there is some flexibility in terms of what kind of college degree you need to have.

One of the most popular options for a career in crime scene investigation is a degree in police sciences. This is a great way to prepare for working alongside detectives and understanding the legal process of collecting evidence for a case. Another popular major for an aspiring crime scene investigator in forensic science.

If you have more of an interest in handling the data and evidence that gets collected, or working in a lab setting, then studying biology or chemistry can be an option. At the very minimum, you should earn an associate degree, which takes two years to complete. For most jobs, a four-year bachelor’s degree will be required in order to secure the position.

Typical Curriculum for Your Bachelor’s Degree

The average bachelor’s degree, whether it is earned at a traditional college or an accredited online college, takes eight semesters to earn over four years.

You might complete anywhere from 120 to 130 credits during that time, a portion of which will be in general education courses like English language, math or business communications.

However, those degrees that best prepare you for a career in crime scene investigation will also cover relevant topics that can come in handy after graduation.

Some of the key courses to look for in your degree’s syllabus might include evidence photography, safe packaging of evidence, observation techniques and basic legal procedures.

Prerequisites for Enrollment in a Bachelor’s Degree Program

If you think that crime scene investigation is a suitable career for your future, then you will want to start looking seriously at a bachelor’s degree program to help you prepare for the job.

Whether you want to study police sciences or forensic science, the same basic prerequisites will be in place for a college degree. Potential students will need to formally apply to the college of their choice, get accepted by the college and then enroll into the program before they can begin taking classes and sitting for exams.

Although the exact requirements depend on the competitiveness of the college you want to attend, most bachelor’s degree programs expect students to have a high school diploma or the equivalent of a general education degree.

You may also need to supply copies of your high school transcripts, references from previous teachers and employers, a minimum grade point average, proof of recent SAT or ACT scores or even a written admission essay detailing your interest in the program.

Benefits of an Online Degree in Crime Scene Investigation

There are hundreds and even thousands of different colleges and universities where you can study forensic science, chemistry, photography or police sciences, all of which could help you prepare for a career in crime scene investigation.

While it is possible to attend a traditional college campus to earn your degree, it is also becoming increasingly popular to earn a bachelor’s degree online.

Accredited online colleges provide degrees that are readily accepted by employers. In addition, they are often a better fit for a busy student’s schedule. As long as you have access to a computer and a regular Internet connection, you can earn a college degree.

Instead of attending a lecture or seminar at a college campus, you can log onto your computer and stream the class live or even watch the recording at a later date that works better with your schedule. Even exams and online classroom discussions can be completed on your own time.

Online bachelor’s degrees are often a top pick for students who work full time, have children, don’t want to deal with the hassle of commuting in busy traffic or live a long way from a convenient college campus.

Job Benefits, Expectations and Growth in the Field

There are a number of different things to consider when choosing a potential career. Along with average salary, level of education required and an interest in the available positions, it is important to give some thought to the future of the industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, crime scene investigation will see a six percent increase in overall employment demand between now and 2022.

This is great news for those with an interest in the field because it predicts growth and the likely opening of new positions. Salaries in crime scene investigation can vary significantly, but those with at least a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn a median annual salary of $52,840.

However, it is important to realize that this job can be demanding, and long days or shifts are not at all uncommon. In addition, being called in at a moment’s notice may be necessary, particularly in areas where crime is high.

When a crime scene is identified, it is vital that technicians are on the scene immediately in order to gather evidence as quickly as possible.

If crime scene investigation stands out as a career that really appeals to you, then earning a degree is the best way to prepare for this position. To find out more about online programs available in many areas of criminal justice and protective services, visit

About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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