How do I Become a Crime Scene Technician?

Erin Oxendine

A crime scene technician is someone who analyzes and obtains evidence at a crime scene and reports the findings to law enforcement authorities. Crime scene technicians are also known as forensic specialists or criminologist investigators. In order to become a crime scene technician, first check the requirements of the agency or department you are interested in joining to see what the requirements are. The department's requirements can vary depending on your state or country.

Crime scene technicians are involved in collecting and analyzing evidence.
Crime scene technicians are involved in collecting and analyzing evidence.

Most agencies require a two-year or four-year degree in criminal justice to become a crime scene technician. Investigators train to work at areas such as home invasions, assaults, homicides, and autopsies. The technician is responsible for duties at the crime scene including but not limited to analyzing prints, tagging evidence, taking photographs, preparing reports, and testifying in court when needed.

Crime scene technicians may be responsible for taking photographs of a crime scene.
Crime scene technicians may be responsible for taking photographs of a crime scene.

Compare courses at local colleges, and consider the length of each program to become a crime scene technician. Decide if you want to get a two-year degree or a four-year degree. Make sure the program includes courses such as finger printing, evidence technology, criminology, crime scene processing, and court analysis. Some colleges offer certificate programs online as well. In some cases, smaller departments may hire a crime scene technician with just a high school diploma as long as the applicant is a certified crime scene technician.

A crime scene tech may be responsible for gathering fingerprints at a crime scene.
A crime scene tech may be responsible for gathering fingerprints at a crime scene.

When applying to a department for a forensics job, find out any mandatory prerequisites. The majority of departments require extensive background checks and psychological evaluations before they will hire someone for an investigator's position. Certain skills are helpful when a person chooses to work at a crime scene. It is crucial to have the ability to analyze evidence, quickly take in the surroundings of a scene and categorize the findings, and work confidently along with other agencies sent to a crime scene.

Crime scene technicians may be called upon as expert witnesses to testify in court.
Crime scene technicians may be called upon as expert witnesses to testify in court.

Upon completion of training to become a crime scene technician, a decision has to be made as to what area of law enforcement to work in. Some technicians are sworn police officers and work as criminologists in their department. Other investigators are civilians who choose to work in the private sector and become a private investigator. Crime scene specialists also work for national government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US.

After getting a position as a crime scene technician, it is crucial to stay up to date with the laws and advances in criminal science. A person who decides to become a crime scene technician has to stay abreast on the latest in technology and science. The field of criminal justice can be a rewarding and very interesting career with the right skills and mindset.

Crime scene technicians collect samples for lab analysis.
Crime scene technicians collect samples for lab analysis.

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