Career insights: Become a Crime Scene Investigator
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Crime Scene Investigator explained
The crime scene – a mysterious puzzle with many clues and no immediate or 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 can 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.
- Understand what evidence is needed and then decide to best way to recover this evidence.
- Record the scene photographically, and sometimes with video too.
- Locate, record and recover evidence such as clothing fibres, blood, hair, paint and so on using various techniques.
- Package all the evidence and send for analysis.
- Keep detailed written records, producing statements when needed.
The evidence you gather as a CSI can be central to many cases, including those conducted by the coroner
What skills will you need?
- Shift working- services provided by CSIs is 24 hours. This means working shifts, including nights and possibly an on-call rota too.
- Awareness - you need to be realistic about the things that you will see and witness. Some of these scenes will be distressing and upsetting.
- Level of fitness - being a CSI is a demanding job, emotionally and physically. Crime scenes can be anywhere, from someone’s driveway to remote, inhospitable and unpleasant places.
- Numeracy & Literacy - CSIs are also required to write detailed, 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.
Being a CSI means working as part of a team. You will be supervised closely by a senior forensic scientist both in the field and with administration 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. Many ask for a good standard of secondary education, e.g. five GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A* to C). Some forces also stipulate that candidates must have A-Levels. However, with a comprehensive course such as the Diplomas that NCC 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.
- clean driving licence is also preferable too
- physically fit
- methodical with attention to detail
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 at the course content.
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.