The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Collect evidence at crime scene, classify and identify fingerprints, and photograph evidence for use in criminal and civil cases.
Sample of reported job titles:
Crime Scene Evidence Technician, Crime Scene Investigator, Crime Scene Technician, Criminalist, Field Identification Specialist, Forensic Specialist, Identification Officer, Identification Technician, Latent Fingerprint Examiner, Latent Print Examiner
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Maintain records of evidence and write and review reports.
- Package, store and retrieve evidence.
- Submit evidence to supervisors, crime labs, or court officials for legal proceedings.
- Testify in court and present evidence.
- Analyze and process evidence at crime scenes, during autopsies, or in the laboratory, wearing protective equipment and using powders and chemicals.
- Look for trace evidence, such as fingerprints, hairs, fibers, or shoe impressions, using alternative light sources when necessary.
- Photograph crime or accident scenes for evidence records.
- Dust selected areas of crime scene and lift latent fingerprints, adhering to proper preservation procedures.
- Create sketches and diagrams, by hand or computer software, to depict crime scenes.
- Serve as technical advisor and coordinate with other law enforcement workers or legal personnel to exchange information on crime scene collection activities.
- Coordinate or conduct instructional classes or in-services, such as citizen police academy classes and crime scene training for other officers.
- Interview victims, witnesses, suspects, and other law enforcement personnel.
- Process film and prints from crime or accident scenes.
- Perform emergency work during off-hours.
- Identify, compare, classify, and file fingerprints, using systems such as Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) or the Henry Classification System.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Detailed Work Activities
- Document legal or regulatory information.
- Write operational reports.
- Process forensic or legal evidence in accordance with procedures.
- Testify at legal or legislative proceedings.
- Analyze crime scene evidence.
- Examine crime scenes to obtain evidence.
- Interview people to gather information about criminal activities.
- Record crime or accident scene evidence with video or still cameras.
- Respond to emergencies to provide assistance.
- Draw detailed or technical illustrations.
- Use databases to locate investigation details or other information.
- Collaborate with law enforcement or security agencies to share information.
- Direct employee training programs.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 87% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 87% responded “Very important results.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 86% responded “Extremely important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 86% responded “Extremely important.”
- Telephone — 72% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With External Customers — 89% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 82% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 77% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Contact With Others — 78% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 74% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 77% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 49% responded “Extremely important.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 55% responded “Extremely important.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 49% responded “Every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 37% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Time Pressure — 55% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 38% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 36% responded “High responsibility.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 41% responded “More than half the time.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 38% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 46% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 35% responded “Every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 36% responded “Every day.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Outdoors, Under Cover — 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 38% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 29% responded “Every day.”
- Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Level of Competition — 55% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 29% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: CRI
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- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Detectives and Criminal Investigators.
Employment data for Detectives and Criminal Investigators.
Industry data for Detectives and Criminal Investigators.
|Median wages (2019)||$39.99 hourly, $83,170 annual|
|Employment (2019)||113,500 employees|
|Projected growth (2019-2029)||
Slower than average (1% to 2%)
|Projected job openings (2019-2029)||7,300|
|Top industries (2019)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 wage data
and 2019-2029 employment projections
“Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2019-2029). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Sources of Additional Information
Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries.
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