What Are Entry-Level Jobs in Crime Scene Investigation?
Get details on common entry-level positions in the crime scene investigation field. See job descriptions, education requirements and potential earnings, and get the facts about job prospects.
Overview of Entry-Level Crime Scene Investigation Careers
Crime scene investigators are responsible for collecting and documenting physical evidence at a crime scene. Some jobs in this field require a great deal of experience, while others are considered entry level. Read on to learn about working as a forensic science technician, fingerprint examiner and forensic photographer.
Important Facts About This Occupation
|Median Salary (2018)||$58,230 for all forensic science technicians, $34,000 for all photographers|
|Key Skills||Understanding of forensic science equipment; analytic and problem-solving skills|
|On-the-Job Training||Necessary skills will be learned on the job|
|Professional Certification||A variety of voluntary credentials are available|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education and Training
To prepare for an entry-level career as a crime scene technician, you'll usually need to complete a bachelor's degree program in crime scene investigation or a related field. Curricula for these programs generally include coursework in legal issues related to crime scenes and evidence, safety at crime scenes and latent fingerprint identification.
You may also be required to take courses in forensic photography. A final exam may also be required, and certifications are available. You may also pursue a master's degree related to forensic science.
Crime Scene or Forensic Technician
Crime scene or forensic science technicians work in the field, processing evidence found at crime scenes. As a crime scene tech, your work may include photographing the scene, as well as collecting, bagging and documenting evidence for lab technicians. You'll collect hair, blood and other biological evidence as well as different types of fibers, firearms and other weapons. You'll look for and document latent fingerprints and footprints, tire indentations and other impressions.
Fingerprint Examiner or Technician
As an entry-level fingerprint examiner, which is a specific type of forensic science technician, you'll use established methods to identify a person from latent prints found at a crime scene or fingerprints taken from victims or perpetrators. You may have to compare fingerprints with those existing on databases. You'll register any prints you find in local and national databases. You will work under the close supervision of a fingerprint specialist as you learn the proper procedures. Testifying at criminal trials may be required.
A forensic photographer must first be well versed in the skill of taking photographs and developing film. You will set up the camera for different shots, both with a tripod and with the camera in hand. Physical evidence is typically photographed as a visual record, including an entire crime or accident scene. You will also be responsible, in some instances, for using state-of-the-art ultraviolet photography equipment to record scenes. You will then develop the prints and present them to be used by other technicians or investigators.
According to employment outlook info from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a much faster-than-average growth rate of 17% for forensic science technicians over the 2016-2026 decade, which includes fingerprint analysts. There will also be strong competition, so earning a master's degree might help you stand out. Being knowledgeable in computer forensics can also help improve your job prospects.
A decline of 6% in employment is expected for all photographers from 2016-2026, according to the BLS, which includes forensic photographers. The BLS expects strong competition, so being able to make digital videos and edit photos might help improve your job prospects.