Shows like Sherlock Holmes and C.I.D have always been interesting and motivational enough for the younger generations to pursue a career as a Crime Scene Investigator. Fantasizing themselves as the dexterous detective who solves the case as soon as he/she reaches the crime scene is a dream for many of the young minds out there.
In India, the role of crime scene investigator is not defined and specific. Most of the time the crime scene investigators are either police personnel themselves, forensic scientists/experts, and sometimes even private investigating agencies or detectives.
Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigation is a multidisciplinary and systematic search of the crime scene that involves diligent observation and documentation, photography and sketching of the scene; the identification, processing, and collection of physical evidence such as fingerprints, footwear impressions, hair, fibers, biological fluids, and materials for DNA analysis; and perhaps most important for the application of careful reasoning to the facts.
It is basically the use of physical evidence at the scene of crime and the use of deductive and inductive reasoning to gain knowledge of the events surrounding the crime.
A crime scene investigator is in charge of extracting every possible piece of evidence from a particular crime scene more often than not. These observational experts are also indispensable during trials, due to the importance of their professional testimony in the courtroom.
How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator?
There are several different paths a person can take to become a crime scene investigator. While no set path is right or wrong, the most common way that individuals pursue a career includes the following steps:
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in a Related Field
It’s important to have background knowledge of the foundations of crime scene investigators’ responsibilities. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, Criminalistics, Criminal Justice or Bachelors in Computer Science or Cyber security, or a Bachelor of Science in any pure sciences will prepare you with the knowledge you’ll need to succeed as a crime scene investigator.
Having a bachelors degree in any of these fields will qualify you to either obtain a job or further your education in this field right after graduation.
2. On The Job Training
Real-life work experience will provide you with the edge over others candidates while applying for the job of crime scene investigator. Obtaining an internship or a job within the crime scene investigator field or similar will add to your educational background in this area and make you a more desirable candidate.
Most employers look for 6 months – 2 years of experience in the field, and some may even provide you with this experience when you begin. Collecting evidence, then subsequently processing and analyzing the evidence are all key skills you will gain during the training period.
3. Higher Education
Be aware that this is not the only route to take to become a CSI, just the most common. Some become crime scene investigators directly through the police force, without earning their Bachelor’s degree and only using their experience in the field.
Having a bachelor’s degree within this field and/or relevant certifications could assist you further down the road if you are looking to advance your field or specialize in a specific area of crime scene investigation after your Master’s degree. Ergo, you can go for a Master’s degree in Forensic science, Criminology, or any relevant field which will enhance your chances of being a crime scene investigator.
Scope and Job Opportunities
The crime scene Investigation jobs in India is offered by the most prominent organizations like Central and State police departments, CID, CBI, etc. However, the knowledge and skills gained through courses for crime scene investigation can easily be applied in the fields of drug research, customs, chemical industry, environmental protection, accidental investigation, biomedical sciences, and so on. Many private investigating agencies provide job opportunities as well.
Here, it is noteworthy that the crime scene investigator positions are not entry-level positions. They require experience in law enforcement, forensic science, intuition, and sound judgment gained from investigating in many diverse crimes. Therefore, a bachelor’s degree in any one of the fields of crime scene investigation, forensic science, computer forensics and cybercrime, criminology, criminal justice, forensic psychology, etc., is highly suitable, along with some practical training and investigation experience.
In regard to career growth, crime scene investigator is a very interesting occupation. A CSI who is a member of law enforcement can be promoted in the traditional way, through the police ranks. That promotional route results in a higher salary, higher rank, and it usually allows the employee to continue working with their original team.
There is also some opportunity for upward mobility when it comes to a Crime scene investigator’s employer. With enough experience and success someone working for local law enforcement, an investigator could pivot into working for a government agency like the CBI. That kind of employment would generally garner a raise in salary.
Another unique thing about career opportunities for a Crime Scene Investigator is that many of them have already completed Police Academy training. This gives them the ability to transfer into different departments within the police force. If a CSI decided their skills would be more helpful somewhere else, they could transfer fairly easily between departments because of their completed Police Academy experience.