Requirements to become a csi

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Martin James uses his scientific interest to help solve crimes as a crimes scene manager. He is usually one of the first to arrive at an incident to search for forensic evidence which is needed to track down the culprits.

What is involved in your job?

As a crime scene manager my primary role is to attend crime scenes ranging from homicide to theft. I need to carefully examine a crime scene and recover forensic, fingerprint, footwear, photographic and video evidence and any other physical evidence which will provide identity or culpability for a crime.

I may then have to attend a post-mortem to establish the cause of death and take samples from the deceased, which may be required for evidence or for logging in the DNA database, for instance.

We also collate intelligence from crime scenes for possible use in solving future crimes.

Do you get involved in questioning people?

Sometimes. But this is usually at the scene of a burglary if details stated by the person who reported the theft need further investigation.

What equipment do you use to recover evidence?

I use a wide range of skills and equipment to examine a crime scene to retrieve the correct evidence. Equipment ranges from powdering techniques for recording fingerprints, to a system called Pathfinder which provides evidence of footwear at the scene of a crime. When investigating kidnappings we use Quasar – a high intensity light source – which enables us to see things such as fingerprints that may be invisible to the naked eye.

Typical day in the life of a crime scene investigator

Every day is different. I can start dealing with a burglary and end up examining a homicide scene. Sometimes, I may have to give evidence in the Crown or Magistrates Courts, and recently I was involved in the use of new DNA evidence to convict a person accused of a murder which took place several years ago.

What hours do you work?

I work shifts and operate an emergency call out system to attend serious crimes. Shifts are usually 8am-4pm and 1pm-9pm A team of crime scene managers operates a 24-hour service throughout the year.

What about on-the-job training?

My training with the police involved a nine-week residential course at the national training centre, and on-the-job training in the department for 12 months.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

The best thing I like about the job is the challenge and variety it offers. The main disadvantage is being called out in the middle of a cold, snowy winter night.

What skills and qualities are needed for this work?

An enquiring and analytical mind. You have to approach all scenes of crime with an open mind and not allow yourself to be prejudiced in any way.

Route to becoming a crime scene investigator

  • GCSEs.
  • A Levels in Biology and Chemistry.
  • Graduate in Law (LLB (Hons).
  • Currently doing an MBA at Birmingham University.

Martin's tips

  • Always work hard at whatever you do.
  • Get good qualifications, particularly if you want to work in a scientific area.

Related jobs of a crime scene investigator

Salary of a crime scene investigator

  • Starting salaries are around £16,280.
  • With experience they can expect to earn around £25,000 and senior crime scene examiners earn more than £35,000.

Becoming a crime scene investigator

  • Many scenes of crime officers are civilians working in the Police Force and entry can be gained after qualifying at degree level.
  • Others move to the job after starting as police officers. With this route you spend two years on probation gaining experience of basic police work. There are no minimum entry requirements but entrants must be over 18 1/2 years of age. You must be physically fit and must satisfy a convictions and security check.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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