Forensic Investigator: What Is It? and How to Become One?

February 14, 2023

The role of a forensic investigator is an exciting, but also a very challenging one. From investigating crime scenes to making connections using collected fingerprints to checking for digital footprint, there is a long list of tasks and responsibilities to take on when getting started in the world of forensics.

If you are interested in joining it and wondering what it takes to become one, here is everything you need to know about forensic investigation, including what it is and the education and skills necessary for this career path.

What is a forensic investigator?

Simply put, a forensic investigator is a person who collects evidence for further legal proceedings. They arrive at the scene of the crime, and they gather everything that may serve as a piece of evidence. After that, they work with that evidence in a lab, analyzing the specimen they’ve collected. Sometimes when there’s need for their assistance, they are present at the court proceedings – civil or criminal – in order to testify.

While the job itself may seem as an attractive option, things can get pretty gruesome and gory at times. If you're squeamish, you might want to consider other options, because forensic investigation is not for the faint-hearted.

What does a forensic investigator do?

This will largely depend on the forensic field an investigator specializes in. For instance, fingerprint forensics is there to help connect the fingerprints with their owners and discover identities. Similarly, blood forensics are vital for understanding event sequences when investigating a crime scene.

On the other hand, toxicology focuses on identifying the foreign chemicals that are present in the body, while pathology aims to understand the cause of death. There are also computer forensics, document, DNA, and accounting forensics, all of which have their own specific aims and goals.

When is a forensic investigator needed?

From fingerprints and tire tracks to bodily fluids and footprints, collection of evidence is vital for litigation. It provides insight into what had happened, so taking a variety of physical evidence as well as photographs is a must. Now, damaged or poorly collected evidence is of no use, as well as the evidence that’s been tampered with. It can compromise the entire process. This is where an experienced and reliable Forensic Investigator comes into play.

By relying on their skills, knowledge, and experience, investigators are able to gather essential information and evidence from crime scenes without damaging them. This can help ensure a smoother criminal investigation and legal process.

Where does a forensic investigator work?

Again, this is something that's mainly influenced by the type of investigative work they handle. For instance, if you're specializing in cybercrime, you'll be working at a department that's completely different from someone who's main focus is financial crime. The same goes for investigators working across various other fields, including forensic pathology and psychology and computer forensics.

The work environment also dictates the number of hours you'll work as well as the amount of physical work. Generally speaking, a forensic investigator usually works for a law enforcement agency (federal, state, or local). To make sure everything is running smoothly, they're required to coordinate with their other state, local, or federal agency counterparts.

How do you become a forensic investigator?

When it comes to taking up the actual job of a forensic investigator, there is a particular set of skills and level of education that you must possess. For starters, you need some strong science and math skills. Furthermore, you'll need to meet some particular standards and make sure you're adhering to them once you become an investigator. Great communication skills, along with good judgment, empathy, ethics, and attention to detail are some other skills that are vital.

As far as the education part is concerned, a bachelor's degree is often not required to become a forensic investigator. You may be able to work as an investigator with a high school degree only. Still, statistics show that over a half of forensic investigators have a college degree, while a small percentage (15%) has a master's degree. By seeking additional knowledge, it is possible to obtain additional qualifications and skills that’ll help you advance in your career.

Wrapping up

Landing a job in the forensic science field can be an exciting prospect if you've got the necessary skills. As a forensic investigator, you'll be dealing with many challenging situations and potentially gruesome scenes. However, if you decide you're up for the challenge, this crime solving position could turn out to be the perfect fit for you.

 

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Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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