Crime Scene Investigator

Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.



At crime scenes, crime scene investigators typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab


Educational Requirements

Applicants for non-uniform crime scene investigator jobs at larger law enforcement agencies should have a bachelor's degree in either forensic science or a natural science. Many crime scene investigators are sworn police officers and have met educational requirements necessary for admittance to the police academy.

In college

  • Major in biology or forensic biology with heavy coursework in chemistry, physics and mathematics.
  • Take electives in criminal justice, but not at the expense of science courses.
  • Pursue internships involving field work and investigation.
  • Take elective courses in law enforcement, criminal justice and crime scene processing

After college


Median Salary 2013



Want to know more?

Bureau of Labor Statistics-Forensic Science Technicians

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Get Connected

Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

American Society for Microbiology

American Chemical Society

American Society for Crime Lab Directors

Forensic Scientists Online LinkedIn Group

Forensic Science Students & Educators LinkedIn Group

List of Professional Organizations

The Career Connector for Purdue College of Science Students & Alumni


Get Experience


Websites for some of the state and federal programs include: 

Central Intelligence Agency Internship Program 

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Internship Programs

United States Department of Justice Internships

*You may also want to check with private forensic labs to see if they have internships available.

Forensic science volunteer programs

When you join a volunteer program, you will not receive any salary or compensation, but you will learn valuable lessons that can be applied to your forensic training. The volunteer programs will likely be related to basic criminal justice or law enforcement, as opposed to actually "practicing" any forensic science. Such programs will, however, give you an introduction to the criminal justice field and acquaint you with some forensic scientists. As a forensic science volunteer, you will also provide valuable help to law enforcement professionals and the community.

To find an opportunity, contact your municipal police department or county sheriff's office and inquire about volunteer programs. They will likely have a program that will provide you with experience as a registration aide, victim assistor, data entry clerk, or another job. Though this work may not be specifically related to forensics, you will gain a valuable introduction to the world of criminal justice.

Forensic science research programs

To join a forensic science research program, you should check with private laboratories and businesses in addition to traditional colleges and universities. There are many options available in the private sector.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

American Board of Criminalistics

American Board of Forensic Entomology

American Board of Forensic Toxicology

Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners

Forensic Science Society

Forensic Toxicologist Certification Board

Microscopy Society of America

Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists

Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists

Society of Forensic Toxicologists

TWGFEX: the Technical Working Group for Fire and Explosions

Research & Internship Listings


Find a Job

Crime Scene Investigator Job Page

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