Hi, I am very interested in being a crime scene investigator and and planning on getting my BA in Forensics. However I have a few questions. I understand there are specific areas i can go into such as DNA, Fingerprinting, Computers etc. I am more interested in solving crimes by collecting information from a crime scene and putting the puzzle together. My understanding is that police officers (detectives) do this job, however i am told that a Crime scene investigator doesn't have to be a sworn officer. Can anybody clear up exactly what i can do with a forensic degree in terms of solving crimes. I am not interested in being stuck in the crime lab doing nothing but a specific job for many different crime scenes but would like to do a little of everything. Solving the crimes is my goal, but do i have to be an officer?
As a short answer, the agency/location generally dictates whether or not their crime scene people are sworn.
As a longer answer, I am a civilian Crime Scene Technician with a local Sheriff's Office in FL; I'm from MN and crime scene positions there are sworn. I have a B.A. in Criminal Justice: Criminalistics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice: Forensic Science. As a minimum, my agency requires a Crime Scene Technology certificate or an A.S. in Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, etc. If I were to do it again, I would pursue a degree in Forensic Science or another science-based program, as I've observed that many agencies prefer a similar type educational background rather than criminal justice.
My job consists of crime scene documentation and evidence collection in the field. Additionally, it involves evidence processing in the lab (fingerprints, DNA, etc.); my agency's Fingerprint Unit analyzes submitted fingerprint cards/photographs. I enjoy the combination of duties, as it is satisfying to see an investigation come together because of a good fingerprint, a good photograph, or any other seemingly minute detail.
I am also a civilian working in the crime scene unit. I do crime scene work along with latent print examination. I was one of the luck few that was able to get a job with a 2 year college transfer degree and I am working on my 4 year degree in criminal justice then probably go back for a 4 year in biology.
I agree that most agencies I seen hiring are looking for a 4 year degree in a hard science. But it depends agency to agency.
I been in the field now for 11 years and I am seeing a gradual change from sworn crime scene people to civilian crime scene people.
So you do not have to be a sworn officer to do crime scenes. Even though there is a slow change to civilian crime scene people it is still few and far between.
In my department, I am a civilian Crime Scene Investigator. The detectives put the case together based upon what I find at a scene. All I do is collect the evidence and process it for DNA / fingerprints / bodily fluids / etc. I am also certified to forensically examine cell phones. I give all my pieces of information to the detectives and they put the puzzle together.
Thank you so much for your input. This does help me alot, I do all the research I can about this but nothing beats actual experienced people in the field. I think I'm going to stick to getting my Bachelors in Forensics or a science.
I found your response very helpful. I also am trying very hard to find employment as a crime scene investigator/tech. I will have my AS in forensic science in about a month. I chose crime scene investigation because i love science I love putting the pieces together starting with just what the scene alone can tell you. My training includes: Fingerprinting, DNA, photography, tool marks, ballistics , blood spatter analysis, report writing. legal aspects , HAZMAT, trace, and the general crime scene steps, collecting, preserving, and properly analyzing. ANY INFO I CAN GET REGARDING TRYING TO START MY CAREER WOULD BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED. MY CELL IS (727)768-1700 AND MY EMAIL IS JESSYTEE1@YAHOO.COM. Thank you and i look forward to speaking with regarding this opportunity.
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Volunteer work with different agencies will be helpful.
Here is a tip if you are having trouble getting a job: Apply for a "related" job, such as a Forensic Autopsy Technician, Evidence Custodian, Property Officer, Community Service Officer, etc. This can be a way to "get your foot in the door" or gain on-the-job experience that will help in getting the job you want later.
Another issue is the competition. Sometimes you are qualified but don't quite "ace" the interview so they select someone else who came across better in their interview.
Check out these two articles regarding preparing for interviews:
To get in this career field you may find you need to move to a different location to get an entry level job. But once you have worked a while in that entry level position you will have the experience required for other jobs.
jessica turner wrote
I also am trying very hard to find employment as a crime scene investigator/tech.