How to Become a Criminal Investigator

Entering law enforcement is one of the most courageous and important choices you can make. As a criminal investigator (also known as a crime scene investigator) you will constantly work on puzzles and discover what happened after a crime. The requirements to become a criminal investigator are actually fairly easy to reach, but you will need to find the time and energy to move quickly into the field. Your career will work with grisly crimes often times, so ensure you have the fortitude to deal with that and you will do well in the position. If you are observant and empathetic, you will excel in the field and you might be surprised at just how well you will be compensated for your skills and service. It all starts with one giant step; education.

Criminal Investigation

Criminal investigation is rarely a position that you simply rise up the ranks to earn. You need to do significantly more prep work than you may expect, but the payoff will be worth it in the end. At the least, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in forensic investigation or other related degree, and you will also need to pass a specific certification exam. The best way to ensure that you are meeting your requirements is to talk to your local precinct and ensure that the preparation you are doing meets their requirements. Many students also continue their education to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.

Upon graduation you can expect to earn in the neighborhood of $55,000 a year as a start. This salary, of course, will vary based on employer, position, experience and education, so the more experience you can get, the better your chances are at landing a job and earning a higher income. On rare occasions, students will have no experience, and even with a master’s degree they may have to start in a lower position to work their way up. Earning experience early can help you overcome this step, or even complete this part of your career as you continue your education.

Skills you will need will vary based on any specialization you focus on in school. You will investigate a wide range of crime scenes ranging from murders to physical or emotional abuse or drug related crimes. It is rare that these are easy to stomach and you will want to ensure that you have the fortitude to pour over details of heinous crimes as you move towards the job position, but you should be prepared throughout your college education. If you can spend some time with other criminal investigators in a “ride-along” offering, you can probably get the answer to that concern quickly.

Education and Experience

Earning experience while going to college can be very difficult. A college course schedule can be difficult to balance into your life and colleges are well aware of this. Many students have turned to online degree programs which afford them the ability to make their schedule on a daily basis and dodge the strict requirements of a traditional degree program.

Online programs offer the same education as campus based educations, the difference is that students don’t have to show up to class daily. Instead, they have to meet a specific deadline for graded work and tests, but as long as that date is met, they decide each day, when they have the time to work on their education. The first step is always the hardest, but with the use of an online degree program, that first step is significantly easier. Find a school that will help you get prepared and get started on your future today.