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How to Become a Forensic Investigator
By Sharon L. Cohen
Due to the increased interest from the media in forensics, as well as the many technology enhancements that have improved criminal analysis, many more people are considering a career in one of the many different areas of crime scene investigation. A forensic detective, one of the senior levels in this field, is responsible for crime scene documentation and evidence collection and submission for analysis to local laboratories and FBI Crime Labs.
1. Research thoroughly the field of forensic science and the many jobs available. The CSI positions on TV and in reality differ in many ways. Read books about the career and talk to people in the field and at colleges, universities and online schools about the varied opportunities. In most cases, forensic detectives work their way up from other positions with the police or in forensics.
2. Consider your personal traits and interests when making a decision. This can be a very challenging career, but there may often be long hours and weekend and evening work. You need to like very detailed and orderly work and have good analytical skills and the ability to put the small pieces together to see the whole picture. Since you will eventually be in a senior role, you need to have strong interpersonal and management abilities and work well with people from different backgrounds.
3. Work towards a Bachelor¡¯s Degree in criminology and/or a physical science, such as chemistry, biology or physics. There is no general industry standard for this position. Yet, it is becoming increasingly important to have at least an undergraduate degree due to growing competition. You could also start as a police officer and work up to detective, as well as take courses in the sciences and forensics. Others enter this field from a military position.
4. Look for a non-paid (or paid, if you are fortunate enough to find one) internship in crime scene investigation while pursuing your education. You will have to call laboratories or law enforcement agencies to find what is available. The more experience you have when looking for employment, the better the chances you have of finding an entry position and being promoted.
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