They may not make arrests or read suspects their rights, but crime scene investigators play a crucial role in the investigation process. These law enforcement technicians document crime scenes, collect evidence, and perform tests that can identify or exclude suspects. They work in police departments and crime laboratories across the country.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17% growth in employment through 2026.
Some small departments and labs may welcome applicants with an associate or bachelor's degree followed by on-the-job training. That said, a crime scene investigator career also often benefits from scientific study. Use this guide to find helpful information on crime scene investigator requirements, salary potential, and career growth opportunities.
What Does a Crime Scene Investigator Do?
A crime scene investigator works closely with detectives or other law enforcement officials to document a crime scene, gather and preserve evidence, and perform numerous tests on collected samples. They work at the scene of a crime, at all hours, and in all types of weather. They also work in a laboratory.
At the lab, crime scene investigators may process blood samples for DNA testing, seek matching fingerprints via law enforcement databases, and/or evaluate insect growth. Their work may exclude suspects and bring new suspects to light, help determine a time of death, or reconstruct a crime scene. In some cases, a crime scene investigator may specialize in a particular branch of analysis like forensics or chemistry.
Finally, crime scene investigators may testify in court, explaining the processes used and the results of laboratory tests. They must understand criminal law procedures and the rules of evidence.
Learn More About Crime Scene Investigator Careers
Meeting the educational requirements to become a crime scene investigator serves as the first step on your career path. Learn about the knowledge and skills you need to succeed by visiting the link below.Crime Scene Investigator Job Description: What You'll Do
Crime Scene Investigator Salary and Job Growth
Crime scene investigators jobs continue to grow. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17% growth in employment through 2026. A crime scene investigator earns a median wage of $58,230. Skills, training, and experience all impact salary potential.
Although law enforcement fields continue to grow, employment of crime scene investigation remains small; only about 2,600 new jobs are expected over the next decade. Local and state governments offer the most crime scene investigator jobs, with about 86% working within these agencies.
Learn More About Crime Scene Investigator Salaries
Visit the resource below to learn more about crime scene investigator salaries and the different career specializations available. You can explore related law enforcement fields and areas of the country with career growth opportunities.Crime Scene Investigator Job Salary: What You'll Earn
Take the Next Steps
Criminal justice and law enforcement yield various career opportunities. The following links can help you choose the right law enforcement degree for your interests and explore possible career paths.
Explore Law Enforcement Degrees
Your bachelor's degree in law enforcement prepares you for exciting careers with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Learn about the curriculum, career opportunities, and earning potential for law enforcement careers.
Explore Other Careers in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice includes more than law and order careers. Consider opportunities in areas of the justice system, counseling, or sociology. Visit this site to learn about career options available with your criminal justice degree.
Professional Organizations and Resources for Crime Scene Investigators
Technology and scientific breakthroughs bring new tools to the crime scene investigation field every day. Likewise, investigators must be aware of changes in law or court decisions that impact procedures for the collection of evidence. Professional organizations, such as those listed below, help deliver such information to members in a timely manner. They offer continuing education and educational seminars, and they help connect members to job opportunities across the country.
- International Crime Scene Investigators Association This internet-based organization allows crime scene investigators to share tips and techniques with colleagues. The site also includes information on becoming a crime scene investigator and job postings.
- Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction The organization promotes research and information sharing on crime scene reconstruction methods. The annual training conference brings together professionals to share best practices and network. The association journal shares forensic science breakthroughs.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences The organization promotes the professions associated with forensic science through its scientific journal, the creation of professional standards, and advocacy on law enforcement issues. Members can attend conferences and professional development sessions, learn about job openings, and access scientific resources.