Criminal Investigator Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a criminal investigator. Feel free to use our criminal investigator job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a criminal investigator.
Who is a Criminal Investigator?
A criminal investigation is a project that looks for, collects, and accumulates evidence of a crime for a specific cause or purpose.
To assess whether a crime has occurred, a criminal investigator looks for clues and evidence. If a crime has been committed, detectives may investigate the accused’s background too to determine who committed the crime. Although law enforcement and police agencies are dedicated to criminal investigations of all kinds, an increasing number of people are opting to start their criminal investigations with the help of expert investigators.
Searching, interviews, interrogations, evidence collecting and preservation, and numerous kinds of investigation can all be part of a thorough criminal investigation. Many current scientific techniques, generally known as forensic science, are extensively used in modern criminal investigations.
Investigative ability in criminal investigations:
- Investigative competence: When you first start an investigation, you have very little information or direction. Which approach do you wish to take? What method do you intend to use to acquire your data? You’ll have to come up with hypotheses about what might have happened and then put them to the test in the actual world. Early detection of hidden and revealing signs requires the ability to learn from experience.
- Appraisal of incoming information: Information is only useful if it is accurate and trustworthy. As a result, being able to assess the information’s relevance, dependability, and validity is critical. This entails keeping neutral and avoiding speculations at all times, as well as validating ‘expert’ advice and, on occasion, playing ‘devil’s advocate.
- Adaptation: Investigations develop over time and might take unexpected turns. As a result, investigators must stay adaptable and open-minded to the investigation’s shifting needs, seizing new chances as they arise rather than focusing on one line of inquiry at the expense of others.
- Strategic awareness: Investigations are inconvenient. You should consider the influence on the surrounding community, as well as victims and witnesses.
- Innovative investigative style: A mystery’s hints can be found in a variety of areas. Instead of sticking to tried-and-true methods, lateral thinking can help you identify multiple sources of truth. With new investigative methods and technology emerging daily, it is necessary to take a creative, integrative approach, embracing new strategies whenever and wherever practicable.
The characteristics of a good investigator
They are diplomatic and unprejudiced in their approach: They avoid all sorts of bias and any preconceived notions about a person or situation by focusing solely on the objective facts. When a lawyer has a conflict of interest, for example, they delegate the case to someone who can remain objective.
They are level-headed, collected, and rational: Emotions are always strong in investigations, according to the author Maureen Malone, but allowing them to get the best of you, or enabling witnesses to see that you are affected, could jeopardize the inquiry. As a result, people who can work in high-intensity, potentially triggering circumstances are the ideal candidates for the position.
They are persuasive communicators: As Mick Turner indicated earlier, questioning people is an important aspect of any investigation, and in order to collect the information you need, you must be able to make them feel comfortable with you. This could include asking probing questions or employing language or idiolects with which they can identify or which would elicit an emotional response.
They are perceptive: They can pick up on the tiniest of clues, like minor inconsistencies in someone’s body language.
They are good critical thinkers and problem solvers: They can connect different bits of data to find hidden inconsistencies. For example, the police must gather information from a range of witnesses before beginning an exclusion procedure that eliminates untrustworthy assertions.
They are organised and proactive: They devise a strategy and move rapidly, exhausting all options. Detectives, for example, evaluate the categories of evidence they require and move rapidly to preserve crucial evidence from a crime scene.
Below are the criminal investigator job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a criminal investigator job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
Below is a list of the duties and responsibilities of a criminal investigator:
- Respond to police requests to attend to criminal situations.
- Keep a crime scene clean so that evidence remains accurate and isn’t compromised.
- Collaborate closely with law enforcement agencies in his or her country or state of assignment.
- Assemble biological evidence using scientific methodologies
- Record meticulously evidence collected at the crime scene, such as blood, hair, or clothing fibres.
- Look for latent finger impressions at crime scenes.
- Take proof imprints like footprints or tyre marks.
- Attend court to testify as part of a legal proceeding.
- Preserve and safeguard the crime scene so that evidence may be recovered; it is critical to maintain the crime scene not just to prevent objects from being lost or destroyed, but also to prevent cross-contamination.
- Determine what evidence is required and then determine the best method for obtaining it.
- Photograph the scene, and sometimes videotape it as well.
- Use various procedures to locate, document, and recover evidence such as garment fibres, blood, hair, paint, and so on.
- Send all of the evidence to be analyzed in one package.
- Keep detailed written records and, when necessary, produce statements.
To be qualified as a criminal investigator you need to possess the following:
- You’ll typically require at least 5 GCSEs in math, English, and science in grades 9-4 (A-C), as well as an A-level in a laboratory-based science topic.
Although a degree is not required to work as a criminal investigator, the majority of recent candidates are graduates, and this is increasingly becoming a decisive factor for companies during the hiring process. A degree in one of the following fields may be beneficial:
- Forensic science
- Biological science
- You can become a criminal investigator by completing particular qualifications, such as those offered by the College of Policing. These can be done at the police department where you work.
- You’ll need to gather photographic evidence and video situations you attend, therefore a qualification in digital media, such as photography, may be useful.
- Technology: Criminal investigators must be able to work with a wide range of modern technology. It’s critical to keep track of your investigation. In order to have proof of the results of your inquiry, you may need to make records and shoot videos. Individuals working in this field may need to be familiar with the following technologies:
- Word processing programs to type reports
- Typing and using a keyboard
- Maps and GPS technologies
- Video and audio recording devices
- Database research software for researching a criminal or employment history
- Email software
- Cell phones.
- Speaking and interpersonal skills: Criminal investigators frequently need to approach persons in order to complete their duties. These discussions may be tense or unsettling. Investigators must be able to distinguish whether to act pleasant and when to seek information aggressively. Clients frequently require their investigators to testify in courtrooms and trials. Professionals must be able to confidently testify.
- A valid driver’s license: Eighty-four percent of investigators say they use a car on a daily basis. Criminal investigators must not only drive to conduct surveillance, but they must also drive to gather court records and other paperwork. A professional criminal investigator must have a valid driver’s licence.
- Observation and memory: Criminal investigators are paid to be their clients’ eyes and ears. This implies that people must pay attention. Investigators must be able to focus solely on the investigation at hand. They must also be able to recall what they have seen.
- Ability to work varying hours: Client-requested events do not necessarily occur during work hours. Criminal investigators are frequently called upon to work under duress. They frequently work during non-business hours, including weekends. Investigators must be adaptable in order to suit the needs of their clients.
- Responding to changing conditions: Criminal investigators need to be able to think quickly. When conducting an investigation, an investigator must be able to react to the facts uncovered. That could imply altering the investigation’s trajectory. The situation can swiftly change during live observation. Professionals must be able to respond and react rapidly in a variety of situations.
- Integrity: A criminal investigator’s job is one of public trust. Investigators must conduct themselves in a trustworthy and honest manner. They are expected to tell the truth and run their business in a lawful manner by society.
- Good IT skills: enables the use of Microsoft Office products like Word and Excel, as well as a forensic case management system.
- Work experience: Work experience in the function of a crime scene investigator is difficult to come by. This is owing to screening and health and safety standards, as well as the significance of receiving thorough training before being entrusted with gathering evidence that could be used in a court of law.
Working as a special police officer, as a volunteer, or through an internship programme that can start to introduce you to the tasks involved in the scene of crime work are all good methods to get related job experience with the police.
Intelligence collecting and analysis, security services, or working for a private forensic service provider are all places where you could obtain experience (FSP).
Working with the public is also beneficial, especially if you will be dealing with people in sensitive situations.
- Awareness: You must be realistic in your expectations of what you will see and experience. Some of these scenes are going to be painful and unsettling.
- Level of fitness: Criminal investigation is an emotionally and physically hard job. From someone’s driveway to distant, hostile, and unpleasant locations, crime scenes can occur anywhere.
- Numeracy & Literacy: Criminal Investigators must also prepare extensive, detailed reports for the investigating police squad. Only half of the work is processing a crime scene for clues; the other half is making sure you write everything down and communicate it properly to people who need to know.
Below is a list of essentials you need to have to become good at the job of a criminal investigator. They are as follows:
- A logical and careful approach to your task, as well as the ability to prioritize and take appropriate action.
- For finding and recording evidence, you’ll need good attention to detail and keen observational skills.
- excellent analytical abilities and a curious mind-set
- the ability to operate as part of a team and coordinate with other experts
- the patience to be able to catalogue and keep evidence accurately.
- In criminal investigations, you’ll need to speak with victims, witnesses, and investigators, thus you’ll need solid verbal communication skills.
- ability to use digital and scientific equipment on a technical level
- the ability to remain calm in the face of adversity and cope with stressful events
- motivation and the ability to work on your initiative, as well as the instructions that follow.
- When submitting evidence for consideration, the capacity to follow established rules and protocols.
- At all times, respect for secrecy, as well as a trustworthy attitude is needed.
- A grasp of health and safety norms, as well as those established by the Forensic Submissions Policy, and the diligence to observe them at all times.
- a flexible approach to problem-solving, with the ability to adapt to different approaches.
- Integrity and a dedication to following the police service’s ideals and ethical standards
- Physical fitness and colour vision accuracy are required.
How to Become a Criminal Investigator
Working as a Criminal Investigator entails collaborating with others. Both in the field and with administrative responsibilities, you will be closely supervised by a senior forensic scientist. You’ll need to be able to concentrate for lengthy amounts of time and approach circumstances with a problem-solving mindset.
If you’re interested in this line of work, you might be asking what the first stages are – and what the ideal approach to train to become a Criminal Investigator is:
- Meet Educational and Experience Requirements: Criminal investigators with the correct combination of relevant education and law enforcement experience are preferred by local, state, and federal authorities. Former law enforcement officers and military personnel frequently fit this qualification. In some states, applicants with prior law enforcement experience such as parole, probation, or correctional officials may be eligible.
Although some organizations allow applicants with only a high school diploma, others prefer applicants with an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in a related field. Criminal justice, psychology, a foreign language, and computer science are all relevant majors.
- Complete Training: The amount of training required for law enforcement occupations varies by agency and role. To become a law enforcement officer, you must normally complete an academy or other training programme, and you may need further on-the-job training to qualify for a criminal investigator position.
Education modules on apprehension and arrests, incident reporting, traffic control, and radio operating are frequently included in academy training. It also involves weapons training, a negotiation methods curriculum, and criminal psychology classes. Some states require that specific physical criteria be accomplished in addition to classroom-based learning. Students may be required to perform timed physical fitness tests in sprinting, distance running, and climbing if this is the case, however particular criteria differ by program.
Many agencies need applicants to be at least 21 years old to be considered for the academy. Applicants must also show confirmation of citizenship and pass physical and psychological examinations. Typically, drug tests, background checks, and lie detector tests are administered.
- Pass a background check: You will be subjected to a background check when applying for this employment. To confirm your identity and character, a background check looks into your personal and professional history. Education, career history, civil records, and criminal histories are all common subjects of background checks.
- Get on-the-job training: The majority of criminal investigator positions will necessitate on-the-job training. This course covers the fundamental interagency requirements for becoming a competent and responsible criminal investigator
- Seek Promotion to a Criminal Investigator Position: Officers who want to progress to higher ranks as criminal investigators must often seek promotions. Before moving on to fulfill additional local, state, or federal requirements for advancement, candidates may be required to pass a promotions exam and serve a probationary period.
Where to work as a Criminal Investigator
- A criminal investigator’s work environment changes from day to day. They spend some of their time creating reports in front of a computer.
- They spend time in the office meeting with new clients and reviewing investigation results.
- Another common location for an investigator is a courtroom. They may have to spend several days in the courtroom if called upon.
- They could even meet with cops at their station or headquarters to discuss their inquiries.
- Criminal investigators, also spend a lot of time in the field. They could be stuck in a vehicle for hours or even days at a time, waiting for something to happen. They may spend their days following a vehicle, viewing a scene, or conversing with individuals. They may also spend a significant amount of time interviewing witnesses or interacting with others. A professional investigator’s days are diverse.
Criminal Investigator Salary Scale
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income for detectives and criminal investigators in 2018 was $81,920. Depending on whether they work for a municipal, federal, or state government, criminal investigators can earn a wide range of incomes. Local government detectives and criminal investigators received an annual mean income of $71,340 in 2017, compared to around $106,040 for those working for the federal government. In the United Kingdom, however, starting salaries for crime scene investigators range from £16,000 to £24,000, plus benefits.
Experienced crime scene investigators or managers can earn between £24,000 and £35,000 per year, plus bonuses and allowances.
Senior crime scene investigators are given more responsibilities and are in charge of overseeing the work of others. Higher salaries of £30,000 to £40,000 or more are possible.