Career Guide

Crime Scene Investigator

Emily Hanson  · Aug 19th 2022

Crime Scene Investigators work closely with the police force to collect evidence from the scene of a crime.

Crime Scene Investigator

They make close observations of the aftermath of a crime, utilising their scientific and forensic knowledge to analyse what might have happened.

Crime scene cleaner salary

What is a Crime Scene Investigator?

Crime Scene Investigators combine excellent analytical skills with scientific knowledge to help the police in solving crimes.

Your work has three stands: preservation, analysis and advice. You’ll be called to crime scenes as soon as it is safely possible to secure the area for collecting evidence, avoiding contamination by officers or acts of nature. You’ll then collect evidence through samples, such as fingerprints, blood samples and fabric samples, and analyse these to gather additional information about what happened at the scene. You’ll then compile reports to be given as evidence for the wider police force.


Responsibilities are fairly standardised across scene of crime officer roles. Fundamentally, your key tasks are science and analysis.

Unlike some criminology graduate jobs, you don’t necessarily need a degree to work in a forensic and criminal investigation.

The most common responsibilities are:

  • Analyse gathered evidence in a secure laboratory setting, such as determining fingerprint matches, blood types, and identifying fabric scraps.
  • Collecting photo and video evidence to be used as police photography or crime scene photography.
  • Creating and delivering reports summarising what you have learned from collected evidence.
  • Ensuring your own safety within crime scenes, such as wearing an appropriate forensics suit or csi suit.
  • Gather appropriate evidence from the scene using practised collection methods so as not to destroy or contaminate potential evidence.
  • Responding to requests from the police to attend and immediately secure incidents, and scenes of crime.
  • Using your findings as evidence in court.
  • Working collaboratively with the police, as well as other crime agencies.

CSI forensics


A crime scene investigator salary depends on experience. Junior crime scene investigator jobs range from £16,000 to £24,000, depending on your area, while more experienced officers can expect to earn up to £37,000.

If you specialise in further areas of criminology within the police force, you could move up the pay scale further. Police constables can earn up to £41,000, while the highest ranked Superintendent Officers can earn up to £85,000.


Unlike some criminology graduate jobs, you don’t necessarily need a degree to work in forensic and criminal investigation. However, the sector is very competitive.

Crime scene investigation training largely happens once you’re already in the role.

With this in mind, applicants with degrees in relevant fields stand out to potential employers. Skills employers will look out for when deciding on the relevance of your degree include scientific analysis, such as lab work, and an understanding of criminal law.

Some relevant degrees include:

You can also apply directly to the role of crime scene investigator. The entry requirements are up to individual companies and police departments, though you’re likely to need to have at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A*-C) including Maths, English and a science subject. Some services will expect you to have experience in the police force already. It’s worth looking into the requirements in your local area to learn more about whether this role could be for you.

Police investigation jobs

Training and development

Crime scene investigation training largely happens once you’re already in the role. You’ll be trained up on various evidence-gathering methods, such as the appropriate ways to gather biological evidence, as well as forms of analysis, including laboratory techniques.

If you join the police, there are crime scene investigator courses available to you within the College of Policing( Courses cover everything from analysis strategies to mobile phone forensics. These will be part of your continuous professional development and may lead to a higher salary.


Your skills need to be around analysis and a good scientific knowledge base. These skills can be further honed through training and development.

Many previous roles could set you in good stead to work as a crime scene investigator.

These include:

  • A good knowledge of criminal law relevant to your area of work, as well as various policies underpinning your practice such as the Forensic Submissions Policy.
  • A scientific background, through study or work experience.
  • Ability to drive for prompt arrival at crime scenes.
  • Ability to work well in a team - your role within crime scenes is vital to find out what happened, but your work exists within a wider team of professionals that work collaboratively to solve crimes.
  • An analytical approach to work.
  • An understanding of health and safety, especially when ensuring crime scenes are safe and secure.
  • Attention to detail - this is the fundamental purpose of a crime scene investigator.
  • Competence with technology and an ability to learn quickly.
  • Emotional resilience - you’re likely to work with upsetting scenes, potentially meeting witnesses and handling sensitive cases, so you’ll need to be able to cope with this.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills - you may need to interview witnesses at the scene with short notice, so you’ll need to handle these conversations sensitively but quickly. You’ll also need to share information with various other colleagues, such as police officers.
  • Experience in photography is beneficial, as you’re likely to need to capture images regularly.
  • Experience of working with members of the public, particularly in stressful situations.
  • Physical fitness - your work may involve lifting and carrying when securing areas for forensic analysis.
  • Strong writing skills - you’ll need to file detailed reports of your findings.

Forensic jobs

Work Experience

The nature of your work as a crime scene investigator is very sensitive. Because of this, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to access work experience in the area prior to being employed in a criminology job. Work experience for this role looks more like ensuring you have transferable skills to work in an analytical and sensitive manner.

Many previous roles could set you in good stead to work as a crime scene investigator. The most natural previous role would be in policing. Many previous officers go on to specialise in crime scene investigation. You could spend some time doing voluntary work in the police force, via an internship or through a more formal arrangement such as being a special officer. Equally, working as a civil investigator or in a crime scene cleaner job would give you a good understanding of the work of a crime scene investigator.

This isn’t the only previous role you could have, though. Any role that requires a good level of analytical skills, such as working as a scientist or laboratory technician, would prove very useful.

Crime Scene Investigators combine excellent analytical skills with scientific knowledge to help the police in solving crimes.

Alternatively, some apprenticeships align well with the work of a crime scene investigator. While there isn’t a direct forensic science apprenticeship or crime scene investigator apprenticeship aligned with the police force, laboratory technician apprenticeships would give you a good range of skills to prepare you well for a direct application to the role.

Career Prospects

You’ll learn a great deal about forensic and criminal investigation during your work as a crime scene investigator. This aligns you well with other, more specialised police forensic jobs. Courses through the College of Policing will equip you well for various other roles within the police and crime sectors.

There is a clear structure to work through in the police force. With experience you’ll be eligible to apply for more supervisory roles, such as crime scene manager.

As the police force is a broad organisation, you could use your experience to move into other criminology jobs. You could work as a family liaison officer, working directly with families affected by crimes, or as a domestic abuse investigator. You might even specialise in areas within crime scene investigation, such as being a specialist crime scene photographer.

undergraduate Uni's

Get your questions answered by sending them an enquiry now.