For those interested in becoming a criminal investigator, it is important to first understand what the job entails. Criminal investigators are typically called to the scene of a crime in order to process the evidence. It is important that the first person to a scene of the crime protect the evidence appropriately. This includes isolating and securing the scene and establishing a restricted perimeter. This is often done by using a tape or rope barrier to restrict access to the area.
The majority of positions as a criminal investigator will require a person to have a four year science degree. There are a few positions available that require only a high school diploma or GED, but obtaining a college degree will increase a person’s chances of getting hired.
Most colleges and universities offer science degrees that focus on crime scene investigation. Forensics programs are excellent for someone that is seeking a career as a criminal investigator. Other degrees to consider are forensic psychology, criminal justice, criminology, or Cyber Crime and Computer Forensics.
Students will learn about different areas of crime and how to properly deal with forensic evidence such as bloodstains, human remains, fingerprints, footwear, impressions, and DNA. In addition, a person will learn how to appropriately photograph and document a crime scene as well as how to package evidence in the correct way.
Becoming a Criminal Investigator
The first step in becoming a criminal investigator is to obtain formal education in some type of forensic science. While an associate’s degree may be enough for some positions, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is recommended for most of the jobs in this field.
There are many different colleges and universities that offer these programs on their campus as well as online. Choose a college and degree that will meet your career goals for the future. The best way to do this is to look at job postings that you are interested in and choosing the training that meets the requirements.
Each law enforcement office has different requirements for those that are hired for different criminal investigator positions. Make sure to take these requirements into consideration.
The United Stated Bureau for Labor Statistics, jobs in the field are expected to grow by approximately 20% in the next five years. This is a faster growth rate than the average rate of growth for other industries.
This job growth is expected to come from state and local governments applying more forensic science techniques including DNA analysis in order to help prevent, examine, and solve crimes. In addition to growth in the area, other jobs are expected to be created by the need to replace criminal investigators who retire or leave the field for other employment opportunities in other fields.
The average pay rate for a criminal investigator will vary based on location, but According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2013 the mean average pay in the United States is $79,030. For those with advanced degrees and ample experience, a supervising role will offer higher pay rates, up to $125,320.