What is a Criminal Investigation Specialist?

The entertainment industry has long delivered the idea that becoming a criminal investigation specialist is a glamorous job; the truth is a little less beautiful. The truth is that this job is difficult and requires patience and a passion for uncovering the truth about crimes, so it is not for everyone. But now that criminal investigation is considered a high-paying job, research into what a specialist does has become more commonplace, according to Forbes. Here is a brief summary of the job and what a professional can look forward to when they take on the role of criminal investigation specialist.

What is a Criminal Investigation Specialist?

A criminal investigation specialist is an investigator who focuses on uncovering any clues that may be hidden at a crime scene. These specialists focus on their area of expertise, which is categorized by training and educational experience. Criminal investigation specialists work to create as complete of a picture of any crime they encounter as possible, meaning they gather evidence, process it, examine the results, and work with prosecutors and attorneys to deliver justice for victims. These specialists can work in local, state, or federal government agencies, including state police and the FBI.

What Does a Criminal Investigation Specialist Do?

A criminal investigation specialist works his or her way up to becoming a specialist; they begin by researching written records and testimony, investigating mid-level crimes, and more. After they have the proper job training, they can move on to specialize in their field; these specialties can include homicide, sexual assault, drug crimes, or robbery. Investigators gather evidence and process it in labs, can deliver expert testimony in court, and can sometimes even interview witnesses for the purposes of the investigation. Many criminal investigation specialists go on to become detectives, allowing them to combine their forensic knowledge of a crime scene with the interpersonal and observational skills needed to become a valuable part of the police force.

Demands of the Job

The job of a criminal investigation specialist can be grueling: there are no set hours and most specialists are on-call in order to be available for crime scenes. Many investigators work very long hours during active investigations, sometimes juggling more than one case, and are exposed to physical labor and as the emotional toll of dealing with assaults and deaths as part of their job. Being an expert in court and providing the evidence that can put a person in jail is also stressful, which is why the best criminal investigation specialists are the ones who can emotionally distance themselves from the work they do when not on the job.

Educational and Training Requirements

To become a criminal investigation specialist, a student must either graduate with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, or forensic science; other acceptable majors include psychology and sociology. An internship with a government agency while in school can be difficult to get, but if a student is passionate about this job, it can help them when looking for placement in the workforce. After graduating, a professional must undergo a background check and a drug test as well as an interview for most government positions. Once hired, a criminal investigation specialist receives on-the-job training that can last anywhere from six months to a full year before becoming a full-fledged investigator without supervision from a mentor.

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Investigating crimes is no easy feat, and few people are prepared to take on the responsibility that comes with catching criminals and delivering justice to victims. However, if a person chooses to make a commitment to becoming a criminal investigation specialist, learning what the job is and what it entails will be helpful in planning out a path to pursue this career.