There are several types of certificate programs in crime scene technology. Some are designed for individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent who want to enter the field, while others require an associate's or bachelor's degree in a relevant subject. Some programs are open only to law enforcement professionals.
The curriculum varies depending upon the students' prior training. Entry-level programs cover basic functions such as dusting for fingerprints, photographing a crime scene and writing reports. Students learn to protect evidence and study safety procedures used at a crime scene. Students also may learn how to present evidence in court. Some programs may include courses in criminal law, physiology, and chemistry. Some crime scene technology program fields include impressions evidence, investigation of death and injury. Depending on the specific program, it can take 6 to 18 months to complete.
Certificate in Crime Scene Technology
Crime scene technology programs primarily cover practical techniques for locating, identifying and collecting evidence related to criminal investigations and cases. Students are instructed in common procedures, such as fingerprinting, latent print development, crime scene photography, sketching, note taking and report writing.
Most programs also give students theoretical instruction in general crime scene safety and how to analyze biological evidence. Some programs may cover topics in courtroom presentation of scientific evidence and integrate interdisciplinary studies in criminal law and the natural sciences. Some programs have general education requirements in anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. Common topics include:
- Biological evidence
- Courtroom presentation of evidence
- Crime scene photography
- Crime scene safety
- Technology and equipment
- Fingerprint classification
Certificate program graduates may choose to transfer their course credits to Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs in the same field. Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs are also available in related fields, such as supervision and management, public safety administration and criminal justice.
Crime scene technicians can be employed by law enforcement agencies, medical examiners' offices, law firms and insurance companies. Possible career titles include crime scene supervisor, fingerprint specialist, insurance investigator, and forensic paralegal.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians have a projected job growth rate of 27%, from 2014-2024, which is much faster than average. As of May 2015, these technicians had an average annual salary of $56,320.
There are many different crime scene technician training programs, ranging from those that require only a high school diploma or equivalent to start, to those that require a relevant degree, to those meant only for law enforcement professionals. Depending on the program, these usually take 6 to 18 months to complete.