Careers in Criminal Investigation
One job in the field of criminal justice that offers a great deal of variety is that of criminal investigator. The nature of the work of a criminal investigator depends on education, experience, and the area of concentration chosen. Although the work of criminal investigators has been glamorized on television and in the movies, it is a difficult job; on television shows, the crime is always solved, but that is not the case in real life. At any rate, the job of the criminal investigator is to attempt to solve each case that comes his or her way.
Criminal investigators may begin their career doing entry-level type tasks. These include examining written records, helping to prepare evidence for trial, investigating both felony and misdemeanor crimes, and offering testimony in court about the evidence that was obtained. Specifically, one of the main contexts in which a criminal investigator works is crime scenes. The investigator is charged with studying the scene and determining what may have occurred based on the evidence observed and collected at the scene. A criminal investigator then turns evidence over to a forensic specialist for evaluation. An investigator often interviews people who are related to the case in order to gain more information. This might include witnesses and family and friends of the suspect. As an investigator gains experience, his/her responsibilities in areas such as these will increase, even to a supervisory capacity.
How to Become a Criminal Investigator
To become a criminal investigator, it is best to obtain a degree in criminal investigations, or in some other area of criminal justice. It may be helpful to pursue courses in crime scene investigation, forensics, psychology, and sociology. Although a college is not an absolute requirement in every situation, it provides the best path into this job.
In addition to education, there are many skills or traits that a criminal investigator must possess. One of these is the ability to pay careful attention to even the smallest of details. Another is the ability to conduct independent research. He or she needs to be able to carefully examine and evaluate every piece of evidence (including physical evidence and information gained from interviews) to determine a possible motive for the crime. Therefore, an investigator must have strong interpersonal skills and well-developed reasoning and critical-thinking skills.
Criminal Investigator Salary
The annual salary for criminal investigators depends on education, experience, and geographic location. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that detectives and criminal investigators earn an average annual salary of $79,030.1 Future jobs in the area of criminal investigations include fraud investigator (due to the online nature of society today), and police detective.
Schools offering Law Enforcement and Investigations Degrees
- PhD in Criminal Justice - Law and Public Policy
- PhD in Criminal Justice - Justice Administration-Advanced
- PhD in Criminal Justice - Public Management and Leadership-Advanced
American InterContinental University Online
- Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
Grand Canyon University
- M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
- M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
- B.S. in Justice Studies
- Criminal Justice, AA (Online)
- Criminal Justice, BA (Online)
- Homeland Security, BA (Online)
Keiser University Graduate School
- Criminal Justice, MA (Online)
- B.S. in Human Services / Criminal Justice
- B.S. in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
- B.S. in Criminal Justice
Colorado Technical University Online
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Cybercrime and Security
Interested in a career similar criminal investigation? Check out these related careers:
- Conservation Officer
- FBI Agent
- Fire Investigator
- First-Line Supervisor of Correctional Officers
- Fish and Game Warden
- Homicide Detective
- Narcotics Officer
- Police Officer
- United States Park Police
- US Marshal
- Victims Advocate
- Crime Scene Investigator
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.