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Requirements for Being a Criminal Investigator

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

A criminal investigator is a person who has special training or skill in surveying a crime scene. The individual collects evidence at the scene of a crime and analyzes the information. This job has gained a lot of popularity because of television shows such as "CSI." There is a lot that an investigator does that is not seen in these shows. Sometimes the pieces of a crime do not add up. Oftentimes, the investigator reaches a road block in his investigation. It takes a special person to become a crime investigator.


To become an investigator, many agencies require a certain amount of college education. Typically, you will need at least 2 years of criminal justice classes and, ideally, a 4-year degree to prepare you for a career as an investigator. A candidate will learn how to process the crime scene and the procedures that are used and laws and regulations that govern an investigation.


You must be licensed to be an investigator in most states. Check with your state licensing board on the requirements for an investigative license. Many will require years of service or law school to be considered. The longer you have been an investigator, the more roles you will be given. Experience is important. An agency will not release you onto a crime scene without experience for fear of contaminating the scene.


Research the place where you want to work. Different agencies will require different qualifications to be met before they will allow you to work as an investigator. If you work for federal law enforcement, then you will be required to have a bachelor's degree and at least 2 years of experience in investigations. You will also go through 9 weeks of criminal investigations training. In the training, you will learn about surveillance and guns as well as other topics deemed necessary for the position.


Take the civil service exams in order to qualify for certification. You can find a study guide at your local library or book store. Study the exam to make sure you pass. All agencies will require you to take and pass the exam. The test is common knowledge information and will test you on writing and spelling as well as basic math.

Physical Condition

Being an investigator is a physically demanding job. You should be in excellent physical condition and have keen eyesight. A good candidate should be free from any mental issues, such as depression. You should be able to handle firearms, and you should be emotionally stable; you will be dealing with sensitive cases, such as rape. You will be required to perform these assignments professionally.