If you’re interested in becoming a crime scene professional, then a crime scene technician certificate can help you learn the fundamentals.
There’s a growing demand for trained specialists who can analyze crime scenes, help solve crimes, and bring perpetrators to justice. Many careers in crime scene technology have significant benefits and opportunities for advancement, along with a workload that involves interesting cases.
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With a certificate program in crime scene technology, you can focus on studying useful, hands-on skills needed to enter the field.
Online Crime Scene Technician Certificate Programs
A crime scene technician certificate is a short-term program that can train you in key competencies used in entry-level crime scene jobs. Since most crime scene technician certificate programs have around 18 to 30 credits, you can usually finish one in around 6 to 18 months.
A CSI technician is crucial in unpacking the details of a crime because it’s their job to examine a crime scene closely and assess the evidence. With these jobs, it’s necessary to be meticulous and thorough since every detail counts. It’s also important to handle evidence carefully to avoid contamination.
A crime scene technician certificate program may cover the following topics:
- Gathering evidence from crime scenes and packaging it for analysis at laboratories
- Documenting a crime scene, from taking photographs to writing reports
- Conducting laboratory tests to perform a basic analysis of evidence
- Putting findings together and testifying in court
In their regular work, crime scene technicians may deal with a variety of cases, including murders, accidents, natural disasters, and assaults. Because of this, the evidence that they handle can be diverse, from blood stains and hair to tire tracks and broken glass.
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A crime scene technician certificate can teach you how to handle different kinds of evidence as well as how to map out crime scenes and take accurate pictures. Beyond this, you can also learn how to develop latent fingerprints and classify them by looking through government databases.
Most crime scene technician certificate programs tackle criminal investigation techniques, too. For example, some professionals conduct interviews and listen to accounts from different people. They might then piece together what happened based on these accounts and the physical evidence.
Most of the time, your teachers will be current or veteran police officers and crime scene professionals. So, you might get plenty of simulations and realistic training sessions aside from lecture-style classes. When you finish this type of certificate program, you’ll likely be more equipped to start applying for entry-level crime scene jobs.
Crime Scene Technology Careers & Salaries
A crime scene investigation (CSI) certificate can train you in highly specialized skills. As a result, it may also open up various job options for you.
Many graduates go on to become forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators. Forensic science technicians work with physical evidence from crime scenes and analyze it in the laboratory. On the other hand, crime scene investigators work at the location of a crime since they’re in charge of gathering and documenting evidence.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for positions related to the study of crime scene technology.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||$83,640|
|Forensic Science Technicians — State Government||$64,250|
|Forensic Science Technicians — Local Government||$61,930|
|Private Detectives and Investigators||$59,380|
|Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians||$57,800|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||$56,230|
|Forensic Science Technicians — Testing Laboratories||$49,900|
|Correctional Officers and Bailiffs||$47,920|
|Forensic Science Technicians — Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories||$36,570|
Many of these jobs are expected to grow faster than average over the next several years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re wanting to be a police officer or detective, a crime scene tech certificate can be a helpful supplement to your skills.
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Some certificate holders work in law. For example, some legal assistants round up evidence and write reports for lawyers. With additional training, some graduates may work as paralegals.
Crime Scene Technology Certificate Curriculum & Courses
Most crime scene technician certification programs have eight to ten courses, often including courses like the following:
- Criminal Justice Fundamentals: This course introduces you to the criminal justice system in the US, with components like courts, corrections, and juvenile justice.
- Introduction to Crime Scene Technology: You’ll learn about the most common laboratory techniques used in crime scene investigation, such as chromatography and spectroscopy.
- Crime Scene Photography: This class will teach you how to take photos for documentation of crime scenes, including using low-light, flash, and fingerprint photography.
- Criminal Investigation Techniques: You’ll delve into how to evaluate crime scenes, interview suspects and witnesses, conduct search warrants, and report cases.
- Overview of Forensic Science: This class brings together toxicology, biology, chemistry, and anatomy so that you’ll get a deeper understanding of how to analyze crime samples.
- Biological Evidence: Biological evidence consists of organic material—such as saliva, hair, and blood—that can be analyzed for DNA, so you’ll explore how to handle and test these safely.
- Courtroom Presentation of Scientific Evidence: You’ll be trained on how to communicate and present yourself well during trials while managing stress and speaking confidently.
- Advanced Crime Scene Technology: This course explores more complex techniques, such as blood pattern enhancements, application of chemiluminescent reagents, and sodium rhodizonate testing.
- Latent Fingerprint Development: You’ll learn how to recover and enhance fingerprints through techniques like dye stains, superglue fuming, and fluorescent powders.
- Modern Fingerprint Technology: This class covers the searching, matching, and classification of latent fingerprints using identification software from forensic agencies.
Some programs may include courses on anatomy and criminal psychology.
How to Become a Crime Scene Technician
Here are some ways you can start a career as a crime scene technician:
- Get a high school diploma. The minimum educational requirement for crime scene technicians is actually a high school diploma. From here, it’s possible to start out as a police officer and then request forensics training, but many jobs still require a bachelor’s degree.
- Get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. To increase your chances of getting a crime scene technician job right away, you can get an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in a related field. Common majors include forensic science, criminal justice, crime scene technology, or chemistry. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree may help you qualify for more competitive jobs.
- Enroll in a crime scene technician certificate program. A certificate in crime scene investigation can be very useful because it teaches you fundamental skills, such as crime scene photography, fingerprint development, and laboratory techniques. Certificate programs often last around 6 to 18 months, and you have the option to take them part-time and even online if you want to work while studying.
- Pursue an entry-level job. With these educational qualifications, you can start applying for entry-level jobs at local law enforcement agencies. Most crime scene technician jobs offer on-the-job training to get you up to speed.
- Consider professional certification. Once you have at least a few years of experience working as a crime scene technician, you can pursue certification from the Forensic Science Accreditation Board (FSAB) as a crime scene investigator or crime scene analyst. Professional certification can help you qualify for more advanced positions.
Crime scene technicians have to keep on learning continuously, so it can be an exciting and challenging career. Some technicians even go on to pursue on-campus or online forensic science degrees to add to their credentials.
You’ll usually need to fulfill these requirements to apply for a crime scene investigator training program:
- High school diploma. Alternatively, you can show a General Education Development (GED) certificate.
- Satisfactory grades. Most programs will check your grades in chemistry and biology classes.
- Minimum age limit of 18. Applicants below 18 may be accepted on a case-to-case basis, with their guardian’s legal consent.
Some crime scene technician training programs will also ask for your SAT or ACT scores.
CSI Certificate Programs Accreditation
With crime scene investigation certificate programs, it’s advisable to enroll in accredited schools. To obtain regional accreditation, a school needs to prove that it fulfills high-quality educational standards.
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For an overview of the accreditation process, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website. Federal student aid is only available for students at accredited schools. Certificates from accredited schools are also recognized by more employers.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re enrolling in a certificate program in crime scene technology, you can apply for financial aid to try and reduce your expenses.
To see if you’re eligible for federal and state aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The most common type of financial aid is federal student loans, which would require repayment once you receive your certificate.
Gift aid is also given out through grants. Another option could be employer tuition assistance, especially if you already work in a law enforcement agency. You can also explore scholarship options from your school and outside organizations.
What Is a Crime Scene Technician?
A crime scene technician is responsible for analyzing and classifying physical evidence from a crime scene. Crime scene technicians are part of an investigation team, which includes a crime scene leader or supervisor along with medical examiners, investigators, and other specialists.
Typically, crime scene investigators gather evidence such as fingerprints and DNA samples directly from a crime scene and pass these on to crime scene technicians, who mainly work in the laboratory. While it’s an entry-level job, being a crime scene technician requires plenty of attention to detail, especially since results will be presented in court.
What Does a Crime Scene Technician Do?
Crime scene technicians play an important role in crime scene investigation. Their main role is to test and analyze physical evidence—such as blood, firearms, hairs, broken glass, handwriting, and DNA—with the goal of getting more information about a crime. They may also develop latent fingerprints to find out who was present at the crime scene.
It’s also common for crime scene technicians to study documentation and write reports about what likely happened, based on photographs, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence. Some professionals even present what they discover in court.
What Can You Do with a Crime Scene Technician Certificate?
A crime scene or forensic technician certificate can help prepare you for an entry-level position as a crime scene technician, crime scene investigator, or forensic science technician. If your original background isn’t related to crime scene technology, then earning a certificate may increase your chances of securing a role.
A crime technician certificate can also serve as additional training for law enforcement roles, such as police officers, detectives, paralegals, and investigators in private companies. You may be able to get your classes credited for an associate degree later on.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Crime Scene Technician Certificate Online?
Most crime scene technician certificate programs consist of 6 classes to 10 classes. They can typically take around 6 to 18 months to finish if you’re studying full-time. On the other hand, part-time students will generally take longer.
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Some programs offer classes by semester, while others have a quarterly schedule. It’s possible to take an accelerated track with some online programs. Since crime scene technician certificate programs tend to involve a lot of hands-on work and training seminars, most students end up following a regular schedule.
What’s the Difference Between a Crime Scene Technician vs. Crime Scene Investigator?
Crime scene technicians and crime scene investigators have different responsibilities.
|Crime Scene Technician||Crime Scene Investigator|
Still, these two roles may overlap, depending on the needs of the specific law enforcement agency.
Is a Crime Scene Technician Certificate Worth It?
Yes, a crime scene technician certificate is worth it for many students. Getting a crime scene technician certificate could teach you the necessary skills for a starting job in law enforcement organizations.
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Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, employment for forensic science technicians is expected to rise by 16% over the next ten years. This type of position can also be rewarding and challenging, as you might be working with different cases as you progress in your career.
Universities Offering Online Certificate in Crime Scene Technician Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Eastern Florida State College offers a crime scene technician certificate. The certificate program is available on campus and in a hybrid format. The program requires the completion 28 credit hours. Courses include American Criminal Justice, Introduction to Forensic Science, Introduction to Crime Scene Technology, and more.
Eastern Florida State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a criminal justice technology specialist technical certificate. Students in the program are required to complete 24 credit hours, which typically takes 10 months to finish. The program is designed to prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the criminal justice system. The curriculum covers criminal procedure, technical report writing, policing, and more.
Florida State College at Jacksonville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Genesee Community College offers a criminal justice certificate. The certificate program can be completed 100% online, and credits can be applied toward an AS or AAS degree in criminal justice from Genesee. Courses include College Composition, Introduction to Corrections, General Psychology, Introduction to Criminal Justice, and more.
Genesee Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Hillsborough Community College offers a crime scene certificate that can potentially be earned in just 2 semesters. All credits earned can be applied to an Associate of Science in Criminology. Coursework includes Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminal Investigation, Fingerprint Classification, and more. Some courses are available online.
Hillsborough Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Odessa College offers a crime scene investigator certificate. The program is designed to provide current law enforcement officers an opportunity to improve their skills in crime scene investigation. The curriculum covers proper investigative procedures. Graduates of the program often pursue degrees in forensic science or become crime scene technicians.
Odessa College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Purdue University offers a crime scene technician certificate that can be earned online. Courses include Supervisory Practices in Criminal Justice, Homeland Security Forensic Chemistry and Trace Analysis, Criminal Investigation, and more. Courses are 10 weeks long. To graduate, students must complete 41 credits. On average, full-time students can finish the program in 11 months.
Purdue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Sandhills Community College offers a criminal justice technology certificate in forensic science. The curriculum covers both theory and hands-on skills. Courses are available in traditional and hybrid formats. Classes include Crime Scene Processing, Trace Evidence, Crime Scene Photography, Footwear and Tire Imprint, and Friction Ridge Analysis, and more.
Sandhills Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
St. Petersburg College offers a certificate program in crime scene technology. It is fully online and includes twenty-eight credits of courses such as Introduction to Crime Scene Technology, Crime Scene Safety, and Courtroom Presentation of Scientific Evidence. All credits are designed to be applied to associate degrees in related fields.
SPC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Surry Community College offers a certificate in criminal justice technology. The program includes four courses, for a total of 12 credit hours: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Court Procedure and Evidence, Law Enforcement Operations, and Criminal Law. Students can typically finish the program in just 2 semesters. Graduates often pursue a variety of entry-level criminal justice jobs.
Surry Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges.
Wake Technical Community College offers a crime scene technician certificate. The program requires the completion of 15 credits’ worth of classes that are taken during the day in a hybrid online and on-campus format. The credits are designed to be applied to an Associate of Applied Science. Graduates may also pursue entry-level jobs in law enforcement.
Wake Technical Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Getting Your Crime Scene Technician Certificate Online
A crime scene technician certificate can teach you how to professionally study and process crime scenes. With this certificate program, you can learn about actual practices used by crime scene teams.
You can also graduate with a working knowledge of techniques, such as fingerprint classification and blood pattern analysis. You can even opt to get your certificate online to benefit from a more flexible schedule. Reputable online certificate programs are offered by accredited schools.
You can explore top crime scene technician certificate programs online to start preparing for the next step in your career.