How to train to become a crime scene investigator

How to train to become a crime scene investigator

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The crime scene – a mysterious puzzle with many clues and no immediate nor obvious answers.

The crime scene – a mysterious puzzle with many clues and no immediate nor obvious answers. Posing more questions than answers, it is down to the crime scene investigator (CSI) to sift through all this information and process it.

Clues and answers can hide in the most unexpected of places such as garden hedges, sewers, under the fingernails, it could be the hair left by the perpetrator as they fled the scene or even the fingerprint on the door, hitherto unseen.

It sounds like an exciting career – and it can be – but in order to break into the world of crime scene investigation, you will need a basic knowledge and a strong grounding in the skills and abilities needed. This is why finding the best forensic science courses are essential.

What does a crime scene investigator do?

They recover evidence from all kinds of places from burglaries to vehicle theft, rape and murder. As a CSI you will be expected to:

  • Preserve and protect the crime scene so that the evidence cane be recovered; it is important to protect the crime scene to prevent things not only being lost or destroyed but also protecting it from cross contamination
  • Find out what evidence is needed and then decide to best way to recover this evidence
  • Record the scene photographically, and sometimes with video too
  • Look for marks left at the scene such as footprints
  • Locate, record and recover evidence such as clothing fibres, blood, hair, paint and so on using various techniques
  • Packaged all the evidence and send for analysis
  • Keep detailed written records, producing statements when needed
  • This evidence can be central to many cases, including those conducted by the coroner

The services provided by CSIs and their colleague is 24 hours, thus, if you are convinced this career is for you, you need to be aware that you will be working on a shift pattern, which will include night working, Likewise, some teams also work on an on-call basis too.

You also need to be realistic about the things that you will see and bear witness too. Some of these scenes will be distressing and upsetting, something that many people when looking into how to train to be a crime scene investigator will not realise.

It is a demanding job, emotionally and physically. Crime scenes can literally be anywhere, from someone’s driveway to remote places that are inhospitable and unpleasant. Check out our criminology courses to see if this career is for you.

You will also need to be prepared for the fact that CSIs are also required to write up detailed and sometimes quite lengthy reports for the investigating police team. Processing a crime scene for clues is only part of the job; the other half is making sure you note everything down and communicate this effectively to those that need to know.

Getting started

Being a CSI means being part of a team, and you will be supervised closely by a senior forensic scientist both in the field and with admin based task. You will need to be able to focus for long periods of time, and bring a problem-solving approach to situations too.

If this type of work interest you, you may be wondering what the first steps into this kind of work are – and the best way of training to become a CSI.

  • Good educational background – every force has different entry requirements for their CSIs but a rule of thumb is five GCSEs at grades A to C. Some forces also stipulate that candidates must have A Levels. However, with a comprehensive course such as the Diplomas that we offer, successful completion of the course will show that you have a good knowledge and grasp of key concepts.
  • Expand your photography and videoing skills – CSI work can be a competitive field and so the same time that you are studying for the Diploma qualification, why not take a look at how you can improve your photography and videoing skills? Showing that you can understand and work modern, fairly complex cameras could make a big difference.
  • Other practical skills and attributes – full-colour vision is needed, and a clean driving licence is also preferable too. And don’t forget, you will need to be physically fit too.

In Summary

As you look into how to train to become a crime scene investigator, you may come across many courses that guarantee or promise great results. Rather than focusing on the marketing of a course, take the time to look into the course content. Learn how to become a CSI with our online guide.

For many people, becoming a CSI is a total career change and thus, being able to study flexibly and outside of their normal work hours is important. Home study courses can open up a whole new world of opportunities – and with our pay monthly option, courses are affordable too.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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