What Training Is Necessary to Become a Crime Scene Investigator?

Crime scene investigators often receive all necessary training through the law enforcement agency that employs them. Alternatively, training may come from a degree or certificate program in crime scene investigation or a related field. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education Requirements

Because requirements vary, you should contact your local or state government to find out how to become a crime scene investigator in your area. According to the ICSIA, most crime scene investigators are police officers first. To become a police officer, you generally must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent, though some departments may call for an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related field. Graduates of these programs must then complete professional training with the agency that's hired them. This might include classes in ethics, firearms, and first aid.

Some law enforcement agencies hire civilians as crime scene investigators, if they've completed the desired level of education. This may be a certificate or associate's degree, although some agencies prefer applicants with a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Additionally, you'll need to complete any required employer-provided training.

Important Facts About Preparing for Work in This Occupational Field

Online Programs Bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice, forensics and related available 100% online
Professional certification Certification or licensure may be required by some jurisdictions
Experiential Training Internships are not required, but may be available through some professional forensic departments
Possible Job Titles Photographic technician, crime scene specialist, fingerprint examiner, forensic firearms examiner, latent print technician
Median Pay (2018)$58,230 (for forensic science technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)17% (for forensic science technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Additional Training

Crime scene investigators are usually trained by the law enforcement agency that hires them, according to the International Crime Scene Investigators Association (ICSIA, www.icsia.org). Such training will vary but may include in-class instruction, on-the-job experience, or a combination of the two.

Alternatively, you can pursue formal education in crime scene investigation, criminal justice, forensic science, or a related field. These programs cover topics like trace evidence collection and analysis, fingerprinting, and crime scene photography.

Programs in crime scene investigation and related fields are available from the certificate to master's degree levels, and which degree is right for you will depend on the avenue of crime scene investigation you'd like to pursue. For example, if you aspire to become a crime scene technician, you'll need less formal education than someone who wants to be a criminalist. The latter typically requires a minimum of a four-year degree in biology or chemistry, according to the Crime Scene Investigator Network (www.crime-scene-investigator.net).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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