What Are Popular Crime Scene Investigation Careers?
Some popular careers in crime scene investigation include forensic science technician, computer forensics investigator and forensic anthropologist. Educational requirements vary from a bachelor's degree to a doctoral degree. Read on to learn more about these careers, including their associated job duties, educational requirements and economic outlooks.
Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians collect, identify, classify and analyze physical evidence at crime scenes. They run routine tests on evidence to determine if it could be helpful to investigations. Such evidence might include weapons, clothing fibers, human tissue, and hair. When criminal investigations progress to trial, forensic science technicians often serve as expert witnesses on investigation techniques and/or presented evidence. They also may act as experts in handwriting, ballistics or other investigative specialties.
A natural sciences bachelor's degree is the most common educational requirement for a career as a forensic science technician. Some possible majors include biology and chemistry, and you should take forensic science classes if they are available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that growth for this occupation will be faster than average, with an expected increase in jobs of 17% percent over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). The median wage for forensic science technicians was $58,230 in May 2018.
Important Facts About the Highest Paying Health Professions
|Forensic science technician||Computer forensics investigator||Forensic Anthropologist|
|Professional Certification||Voluntary; certifications vary due to the requirements per jurisdiction||Voluntary; requirements vary by state||Voluntary; available through the American Board of Forensic Anthropology|
|Key Skills||Solid mathematical and scientific foundation; critical thinking; problem-solving; attention to detail||Computer competency; ingenuity; good judgment and decision making; clear communication||Analytical thinking; critical thinking; inquisitiveness; clear communication|
|Work Environment||Police departments; crime laboratories; morgues; coroner offices||Investigation, guard, and armored car services; government agencies; finance and insurance companies; retail trade||Research and development in the social sciences and humanities; management, scientific, and technical consulting services; government agencies; engineering services|
|Similar Occupations||Biological technicians; medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians; medical scientists||Security guards and gaming surveillance officers; police officers; detectives||Historians; sociologists; archivists, curators, and museum workers|
|Median Salary (2018)||$58,230||$50,090 (for private detectives and investigator)||$62,410 (for anthropologists and archeologists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||17%||11%(for private detectives and investigator)||4% (for anthropologists and archeologists)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Computer Forensics Investigator
Computer forensics investigators are called upon in cases that involve technological elements, such as major computer hacks. They also might be needed to retrieve data that's been deleted from computers or to decode encrypted information. A recent rise in cybercrimes has led to an increase in the popularity and usefulness of computer forensics.
The BLS notes that a criminal justice or computer science bachelor's degree is the most common educational requirement for a computer forensics investigator. Extensive on-the-job training is also common, and you can expect to take continuing education classes to stay up to date. From 2016-2026, a faster-than-average growth at a rate of 11% is expected for private detectives and investigators in general. The BLS reported an average wage of $50,090 for these professionals as of May 2018.
Law enforcement officers turn to forensic anthropologists when they discover a body that's been deceased for a significant period of time. These specialists analyze remains that are in advanced states of decomposition or otherwise unidentifiable. From skeletal remains, forensic anthropologists can determine the physical stature, age, and sex of the deceased. They work with investigators to identify crime victims and document trauma to bodies.
The BLS notes that a master's or doctoral degree is usually required to work as an anthropologist, although there may be some jobs available for those with only a bachelor's degree. In addition, you will need a significant field experience. Slower-Than-Average job growth of 4% is expected for anthropologists and archaeologists over the 2016-2026 decade, according to the BLS. The average wage for anthropologists and archaeologists in May 2018 was $62,410.