Career Development

What Does a Crime Scene Investigator Do?

Find out what a crime scene investigator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a crime scene investigator.

Crime scene investigators are responsible for collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes. They use a variety of tools and techniques to document, photograph, and collect physical evidence from the scene so that it can be used in court later on.

Crime scene investigators may work alone or as part of a team with other law enforcement officers. Regardless of their role, they must follow strict protocols when processing a crime scene so that they don’t contaminate any potential evidence.

Crime Scene Investigator Job Duties

Crime scene investigators have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Identifying and collecting physical evidence from crime scenes using tools such as tape measures, cameras, and fingerprint scanners
  • Examining crime scenes for clues about the events that transpired there, including reviewing any available surveillance video footage
  • Conducting interviews with witnesses and suspects to gather information about a crime
  • Recording findings about evidence in a crime scene investigation logbook or database
  • Collecting biological evidence from crime scenes such as blood, semen, hair, teeth, fingernails, and bones
  • Preparing sketches of crime scenes based on their observations
  • Collecting fingerprints from crime scenes using powder and brushes to develop prints or using electronic scanners to capture images electronically
  • Preparing forensic reports of findings and conclusions regarding investigations
  • Processing evidence at crime labs using diverse techniques, such as DNA testing, fingerprint analysis, and firearms examination

Crime Scene Investigator Salary & Outlook

Crime scene investigators’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,000 ($27.88/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of crime scene investigators is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

As law enforcement agencies continue to use technology, such as mobile digital imaging devices, to process crime scenes, demand for crime scene investigators will increase. In addition, the need to collect and analyze DNA evidence will require more crime scene investigators.

Crime Scene Investigator Job Requirements

A crime scene investigator typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Crime scene investigators need at least a bachelor’s degree to work in the field. Many crime scene investigators choose to earn a degree in criminal justice or forensic science. These degrees provide crime scene investigators with a strong foundation in the legal system, criminal behavior and crime-scene investigation.

Training & Experience: Many aspiring crime scene investigators will complete a training program as part of their degree program. These programs will provide hands-on experience in the field. Students will learn how to properly process a crime scene, collect evidence and analyze findings.

Crime scene investigators can also receive on-the-job training. They may shadow a more experienced crime scene investigator to learn how to properly process a crime scene.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications enable professionals to prove their qualifications to current and future employers. Crime scene investigators can earn certifications to gain more theoretical knowledge of their responsibilities, test their skills and further advance their career.

Crime Scene Investigator Skills

Crime scene investigators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: The ability to use technology and tools is an important skill for a crime scene investigator. They need to be able to operate a variety of equipment, including cameras, computers and other devices that help them gather evidence and process crime scenes.

Communication skills: Communication skills are necessary for crime scene investigators because they often need to explain their findings to law enforcement personnel and the general public. They also need to be able to work with other investigators and communicate with suspects and victims.

Observation skills: As a crime scene investigator, you need to be able to observe your surroundings and notice any details that may be important to your investigation. This can include noticing if there are any fingerprints on a surface, noticing if a body is in the same position it was when it was found or noticing if any evidence has been moved.

Problem-solving skills: Crime scene investigators use their problem-solving skills to analyze evidence, determine the sequence of events and identify suspects. They use these skills to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes and bring criminals to justice.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes in a scene. This can be important for crime scene investigators because it can help them find evidence and ensure that they don’t miss anything important.

Crime Scene Investigator Work Environment

Crime scene investigators (CSIs) work in a variety of settings, including police departments, sheriff’s offices, and state and federal law enforcement agencies. They may also work for private companies that provide investigative services to insurance companies or attorneys. CSIs typically work 40 hours per week, but they may be required to work overtime, evenings, weekends, and holidays, depending on the needs of the agency. The work can be stressful, and CSIs must be able to deal with the emotional impact of the job. They may be exposed to dangerous and unhealthy conditions, such as blood-borne pathogens, and must take precautions to protect themselves. CSIs must have a strong stomach, as they may be required to view and photograph dead bodies and crime scenes that contain blood, gore, and other gruesome evidence.

Crime Scene Investigator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how crime scene investigators work. Crime scene investigators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Crime Scene Investigation

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more sophisticated, it is being used to help with a variety of tasks, including crime scene investigation. AI can be used to analyze data and make sense of complex patterns, which can be very helpful when trying to solve crimes.

Crime scene investigators who are able to utilize AI will be better equipped to solve difficult cases and catch criminals who might otherwise go unpunished. In order to take advantage of this trend, investigators will need to be familiar with the latest AI technologies and how to use them effectively.

The Importance of Forensic Science Education

The importance of forensic science education is increasing as law enforcement agencies rely on evidence found at crime scenes to solve crimes. As a result, there has been an increased demand for professionals who have expertise in forensic science.

Crime scene investigators are essential members of law enforcement teams, as they are responsible for collecting and analyzing evidence found at crime scenes. By specializing in forensic science, crime scene investigators can provide valuable insight into criminal investigations and help bring perpetrators to justice.

More Collaboration Between Law Enforcement and CSI Professionals

Law enforcement agencies are increasingly collaborating with CSI professionals in order to solve crimes. This collaboration allows law enforcement to utilize the skills and expertise of CSI professionals in order to gather evidence and solve cases.

As crime scene investigation becomes more important to law enforcement, CSI professionals will need to be able to work effectively with law enforcement officials in order to get the results that they need. This requires a strong understanding of both sides’ needs and how to meet them.

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator

A career as a crime scene investigator (CSI) can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider all the aspects of this job before you make the decision to become a CSI.

One of the most important things to think about is the hours that are required for this job. Most CSIs work long hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. This can make it difficult to have a normal family life or social life. You also need to be able to deal with gruesome scenes and dead bodies.

If you’re still interested in becoming a CSI after considering these factors, there are some steps you can take to get started. First, you should earn a degree in criminal justice or forensic science. Then, you can apply for jobs at local police departments or sheriff’s offices.

Advancement Prospects

CSIs typically start their careers in entry-level positions, such as crime scene technician or evidence technician. With experience, they may be promoted to senior positions, such as lead CSI or supervisor. Some CSIs may also move into management positions, such as lab manager or director of forensics.

CSIs with strong analytical and problem-solving skills may be interested in moving into other forensic science positions, such as forensic engineer or forensic accountant. Those with strong people skills may be interested in becoming a police officer or detective.

Crime Scene Investigator Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are looking for a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) to join our team. The CSI will be responsible for investigating and processing crime scenes, collecting and preserving evidence, and documenting findings. The ideal candidate will have experience working in a law enforcement setting and be able to maintain a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. They will also be able to work well under pressure and have strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Investigate and document crime scenes, collecting and preserving physical evidence according to established protocols
  • Conduct interviews with victims, witnesses, and suspects to obtain information relevant to the case
  • Review police reports and other documents to gain an understanding of the circumstances surrounding the crime
  • Develop and maintain positive relationships with law enforcement personnel and others involved in the criminal justice system
  • Prepare detailed reports of findings, including photographs, diagrams, and written descriptions
  • Testify in court as needed
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the field of forensics and criminal investigation
  • Maintain accurate records and files
  • Adhere to safety standards and procedures
  • Perform administrative tasks as needed
  • Assist with training of new investigators
  • Participate in continuing education and professional development opportunities

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in forensic science, criminal justice, or related field
  • 1-2 years experience working in a crime lab or as a crime scene investigator
  • Experience with evidence collection and processing
  • Familiarity with law enforcement procedures
  • Ability to maintain composure in high-stress situations
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in forensic science, criminal justice, or related field
  • 3-5 years experience working in a crime lab or as a crime scene investigator
  • Leadership experience
  • Teaching experience
  • Expertise in a particular area of forensics, such as DNA analysis, ballistics, or fingerprints

Similar Jobs


What Does a Life Enrichment Director Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Physical Design Engineer Do?