An investigator is a person whose job involves examining the crime, statements, problem, etc., discovering the truth. Both crime scene investigators and criminal investigators work together in eradicating crimes from society, but both are entirely different professions. The difference between a crime scene investigator and criminal investigator is the educational qualification needed for the same.

A crime scene investigator is usually given charge of extracting all the evidence available from the crime scene. Criminal investigators usually play an important role in law enforcement and criminal justice. Criminal investigators collect evidence and gather facts to solve a particular crime.

This article explains in detail the difference between a crime scene investigator and criminal investigator.

Crime Scene Investigator and Criminal Investigator

Although both crime scene investigators and criminal investigators work as one with a common mission, i.e., to uncover the truth causing an incident. Crime scene investigators are also known as the first responder to the crime scene, where they collect, handle, examine, transport the evidence, and reconstruct the scene of the crime.

Crime being a constant problem, crime scene investigator and criminal investigators usually have high job stability. The real-life job of a criminal investigator isn’t as exciting as it is shown on television. Criminal investigators usually follow up on the crimes which have already been committed.

Crime scene investigators, on the other hand, are specialized law enforcement personnel. They usually apply the knowledge and principles of forensic science to document the scene of the crime.

The various pieces of evidence collected and analyzed by a crime scene investigator include tire tracks, footprints, blood spatters, and many other various elements of the crime scene to reconstruct the crime scene. It helps determine the theories about what occurred at the scene, the sequence of the events, and the time of the commission of a crime.

Criminal investigators, however, analyze the crimes that have already occurred. They also search for and apprehend the offender. To become a criminal investigator, it is first required to become a police officer. However, it is not required for a crime scene investigator to be police officer before becoming a crime scene investigator.

Difference Between Crime Scene Investigator and Criminal Investigator

ParametersCrime Scene InvestigatorCriminal Investigator
RoleTo collect, analyze, handle and transport the various pieces of evidence found at a scene of the crime. They also gather information from witnesses present at the scene. Criminal investigators collect evidence, interview the witness and also arrest the suspected offender.
Duties and ResponsibilitiesCrime scene investigators assist criminal investigators in solving the crime, the various responsibilities of these investigators involve: Lifting and collecting fingerprints, Collecting and documenting the trace evidence, Determining the time since death, Examing the devices and weapons, Testifying as a witness in court, Conducting interviews, Assisting police from securing the crime scene, Photographing and documenting each piece of evidence, Sending the evidence to the lab and write a report on the findings.Criminal investigators perform the following duties: Crime scene investigation, Evidence collection, Witness interviews, Report writing, Record keeping, Courtroom testimony, Preparing arrest warrant, Preparing and executing a search warrant, Arresting the offenders.
Education QualificationA bachelor’s degree in forensic science is often preferred. Course work in law enforcement and forensic science provides an advantage over other students.Many agencies need a high school diploma. An associate degree is also sometimes required from the same college. The most common degrees are criminology and criminal justice.In addition to a degree, it is required to receive law enforcement certification from the state’s standard and training commission.


Although there are few differences between a crime scene investigator and criminal investigator, both have an ultimate role to keep the pieces of evidence intact from the time they are collected to transportation to the laboratory until the case ends in the court.

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