How to Become a Criminal Investigator

As long as there are people, there will be crimes. Criminal investigators, also known as crime scene investigators (CSI), are the people who analyze a crime scene. Their main job is to document the scene of the crime and make sure that all the evidence is securely transported to the laboratory for analysis. Criminal investigators will typically investigate murders, sexual and physical assaults, robberies, drug trafficking etc. Unlike police officers, most criminal investigators wear plain clothes, to help them blend in with the general public when participating in undercover investigations [source: BLS]. Like many other professions, there are educational requirements and specialized training involved. Here's what you need to become a criminal investigator:

  • Education A bachelor's degree in forensic science or forensic technology is a must. In addition, a master's degree in criminal law or criminal justice can lead to a management position in crime scene investigation.
  • Experience Get a job in a police department to get law enforcement experience. Work with experienced criminal investigators to get on-the-job training.
  • Certification To become certified, you will have to have a bachelor's degree, two years experience in law enforcement and pass an examination. There are two organizations that provide certification: the International Association of Identification (IAI) and the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) [source: ABC, IAI].

When you've completed all these steps you'll be ready go get a job as a criminal investigator.