If examining crime scenes and processing evidence sounds exciting, then a job as a crime scene investigator, often known as a forensic science technician, might be right up your alley. Most crime scene investigators work for law enforcement agencies, so you have several job locations to choose from. Crime scene investigation requires long hours on the job so you might want to develop a love for coffee or healthy energy drinks so you can stay alert on the job.
Large Police Departments
Crime scene investigators work at police departments and help law enforcement officers secure crime scenes and inspect them for evidence. They tape off areas and quarantine rooms to reduce the likelihood that evidence will be tampered with or contaminated. Because police departments are open 24-7 and crimes can occur at any time, some employ crime scene investigators during all shifts, while others have investigators on call. Small police departments often rely on help from county, state and federal crime scene investigators when needed.
Many TV shows present a realistic view of crime scene investigation when they show characters hard at work in crime laboratories. Not all crime scene investigation takes place at the scene, much of it occurs in science laboratories at federal, state or local agencies. The labs are stocked with blood-testing equipment, microscopes, forensic kits, DNA sampling kits and tests, high-tech cameras and finger-print processing chambers. Crime laboratories are no place for the weak at heart -- or those with a weak stomach.
FBI Criminal Investigative Divisions
Some crime scene investigators work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Investigative Divisions. They oversee investigations related to violent crimes, financial crimes, drug crimes, organized crime and corruption, so their services are far-reaching, according to FBIjobs.gov. CID investigators also help with administrative needs, such as investigative policies, procedures and programs. They work with local law enforcement agencies, police departments, medical examiner offices, foreign governments and officials at the Department of Justice.
Medical Examiner Offices
Crime scene investigators work hand-in-hand with medical examiners, even though they are employed by different government agencies. Medical examiners are public officers that determine cause of death. They often perform autopsies and run tests to determine what biological and chemical factors led to a person's death. They consider evidence crime scene investigators find that might point to homicide, suicide or drug overdoses. According to New York chief medical examiner information at NYC.gov, their offices are located at forensic biological laboratory buildings, medical centers, hospitals and medical examiner offices.
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