Forensic scientist and crime scene investigator is a field of criminal justice where both professionals work together to provide justice to the victim of a crime. To pursue their career in these fields, a student must pursue graduate degrees in their respective profession. However, before advancing forward, we must know the roles, these professionals play in a criminal investigation.
Although the crime scene investigators and forensic scientists work as one with one mission i.e., to uncover the truth causing an incident, yet they have a lot of differences in their duties, salaries, education requirements, work environment, etc. As seen in movies, or TV series where a forensic scientist does all the work from crime scene investigation to the analysis of evidence to testifying in court, the reality differs widely.
Crime scene investigators work at the crime scene also known as the first responder to the crime scene, where they collect, handle, examine, transport the evidence, and sometimes recreates the crime scene. However, the forensic scientists work in a laboratory in a safe environment where they analyze the evidence provided to get an effective result to help in linking the suspect with the crime scene and victim.
On account of this, here in this article you will find a brief description, difference and similarities for both the profession in the field of criminal justice.
Crime scene Investigator & Forensic scientist
Even though the occupation of both professions varies, they work towards the same goal which is to eradicate the criminals from the society with the help of analysis of evidence collected from the crime scene to present them in the court. Their education too is related to criminal justice, however, the subjects vary and both professions receive almost a similar average annual income.
However, it is vital to note that both professions work separately at different work environment.
A crime scene investigator works at random crime scenes which may unsafe including harsh weather, toxic environment, unsanitary, etc. Their main job is to secure the crime scene, collect the physical, biological, and trace evidence, photograph, videography, and sketching of the crime scene. Transporting the evidence to the forensic lab is also the duty of crime scene investigators to maintain a proper chain of command.
Besides, they also talk with the family of the victim, or eye-witnesses, or first responders to find some answers regarding the crime. They also teach the police agencies to keep the scene safe from outsiders to prevent contamination. Later, during the investigation crime scene investigators also help in the reconstruction of the crime scene being the first responder. Their duty concludes after the pieces of evidence are sent to the laboratory unless called to the court for testimony.
A forensic scientist, however, works inside a safe environment in the laboratory to evaluate and analyze the different pieces of evidence using different methods available provided from the crime scene by crime scene investigators to help law enforcement agencies solve the crime.
Even though all forensic scientists work as one, their job indicates different niches to work on different kinds of samples such as Forensic biology for biological specimens, Forensic serology for biological fluids, Forensic toxicology for the determination of poisons, etc. Their study includes science courses including biology, chemistry, physics, etc.
Difference between Crime scene investigator and Forensic scientist
|Elements||Crime scene investigator||Forensic scientist|
|Role||To collect, analyze, handle, and transport the evidence present at crime scene and gather information by talking to the witnesses present. When not at crime scene, they also work alongside law enforcement agencies in offices for paper works.||To evaluate different evidence for different labs and examine them with every possible methods available and prepare a report if the evidence matches with the control sample.|
|Working environment||They work directly at a crime scene with non-defined timing hours as crime may occur at any time of day. The environment may be unsafe or toxic or unsanitary.||They work in laboratories only in a safe environment for examination of evidences at their respective timings in a particular day.|
|Educational Requirement||They require an undergraduate or associate degree in the closely related field to the forensic science or if a person is already working in a police force having police academy training may apply for the job of crime scene investigator.||A student pursuing a post graduate degree in forensic science can easily be fit in a forensic laboratory in all fields of applied science such as Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc.|
|Educational requirement for Technicians||Technicians require lower education degree than a crime scene investigator. They work directly under the supervisor to collect the evidence. Regardless they may have less knowledge of forensic science, they will be well versed in collection, handling, law, and storage of samples.||Technicians require a lower qualification than forensic scientist in the field of Biology, chemistry, etc. to work under the supervision of Forensic scientists. Analysis however is done by Forensic scientists only.|
|Curriculum||The curriculum may vary with different colleges and universities, however, specific courses a CSI might cover include Introduction to criminal justice, forensics, criminology, evidence collection, Handling, criminal profiling, criminal law, photography, etc.||The specific courses covered in a forensic science degree might include Applied physics, Chemistry, Biology, Anthropology, Toxicology, Instrumentation analysis, Serology, crime and law, Fingerprint analysis, Questioned document examination, etc.|
|Testimony||Crime scene investigator must go to court to testify the various facts of the crime scene recorded, collected samples, verifying chain of command, and further facts analysed by the investigator.||Forensic scientists go to court to provide expert testimony on the analysis of evidence done in the laboratory whenever summoned.|
|Specialization||A crime scene investigator with postgraduate degree in a particular specialization such as criminology may expect to work as a criminologist, Criminal Profiler, etc.||A Forensic scientist can enroll further in a PhD for specialization in a particular field such as DNA analysis expert, research programs, Toxicologist, etc.|
A crime scene investigator and a Forensic scientist have an ultimate role to keep the evidence intact from the time they are collected to transportation to the lab until the case ends in court to prove the link between a criminal, victim, and the crime scene. Forensic science has helped solve many cases for decades in eradicating serial offenders, first-time offenders, gang offenders, Financial offenders, etc.