What Training Is Needed for a Criminal Investigations Career?

The broad field of criminal investigations includes many different careers. As such, the training needed for a career in criminal investigations varies depending on the particular job, but many commonalities exist among the various professions. Read on to review the training requirements for the criminal investigations field. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education

Entry-level jobs in criminal investigations typically require a four-year bachelor's degree in criminal justice, criminal investigation, or a related field. Some jobs may be available to people with a two-year associate's degree or a high school diploma, but employers often prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. Typical collegiate courses cover these topics that pertain to the procedures and theories used in a criminal investigations career:

  • Forensic science
  • Criminal justice
  • Homicide investigation
  • Corrections

Important Facts About Criminal Investigations Education

Online AvailabilityFull coursework online
PrerequisitesStandard university admission requirements: high school diploma or equivalent, SAT or ACT scores
ConcentrationsCorrections, homeland security, law and society, forensic psychology
Continuing EducationRequired by most states to maintain license

Career Possibilities

There are numerous career options available in the field of criminal investigations. Each criminal investigation career is unique, but they do share many common characteristics. For instance, they all involve investigating the details of criminal activity and examining evidence to reveal the perpetrator's identity. The basic education and training for many of these careers is similar, but some advanced jobs may require a graduate degree or several years of relevant work experience. Among the most common criminal investigations careers are those featured in the list below:

  • Forensics technology
  • Crime scene examination
  • Medical examination
  • Private investigation

Required Skills

Those interested in careers in criminal investigations should develop a number of relevant skills. Any career in criminal investigations requires strong problem-solving skills and fine attention to detail. People also need excellent communication skills in order to properly report their findings or interview witnesses and suspects if needed. People who work in criminal investigations should also have a strong background in science, since they may need to analyze physical materials for blood or other trace evidence.

Licensure and Certification

Certain positions in criminal investigations require licensure. For example, private investigators and detectives must be licensed in most states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), and they may also need to hold a firearms license. Meanwhile, the medical examination career field varies widely in different states. Medical examiners typically must be licensed physicians, which requires substantial schooling and training, in addition to passing a licensure exam. However, coroners are typically non-physician death investigators within the medical examination field, and they're elected to the job. Coroners may need to be certified in forensic pathology in some states.

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