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What degree do I need to be a crime scene investigator?

A crime scene investigator (CSI) is a person who works closely with th police to help solve any number and type of crimes. Most work in both a laboratory environment and in the field at crime scenes. This is a career that requires a certain type of personality with a desire to work through a mystery.

Skills and Traits of a CSI

A crime scene investigator will be among the first at the scene of a crime. They will collect evidence and document the scene as it is before others tamper with it. First, they take photos. Then they tag and collect evidence including hair and fibers, biological fluids such as blood and lift prints. Some CSI specialists will study and map blood splatter. Forensics duties may include working with the pathologist to study and collect evidence from the body of the victim. They will possess good written and oral skills in order to prepare written reports and testify to their findings in open court.

The wide range of skills needed by a crime scene investigator require a well rounded individual. Supplementing a bachelors or associates degree in criminology with a minor in photography, computer science, drafting or drawing skills can easily allow a prospective CSI to augment their skill set. Biological sciences or psychology are also recommended minors. These are skills that are used nearly every day while on a crime scene or while handling evidence in the lab.

Educational Requirements

A popular career path includes working in law enforcement before becoming a CSI. Many police forces prefer to hire ex-police as their crime scene investigators. In most locations a crime scene investigator will need at least an associates degree in criminal justice, crime scene investigation, forensics or criminology. In more urban locations a bachelors degree in these fields may be required. In more rural areas, a high school degree and certification from an accredited college in criminal science may be all that is required for an entry level position.

Most beginning CSIs will have to start in entry level positions, regardless of education. Advancement will come with on the job experience and proven record of solved crimes. Even so, this is a career that rewards the life long learner.


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