Medical Investigator: Job Description, Duties, Salary and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a medical investigator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, salary and job growth projections to find out if this is the career for you

A medical investigator examines crime scenes, collecting evidence for later analysis, and conducts interviews as well. These professionals earn about $60,090 a year. A 27% increase in job growth is expected, which is much faster than average.

Essential Information

A medical investigator, or forensic science technician, is a type of forensic scientist employed to investigate deaths that are suspicious or the causes of which are unknown. They collect and analyze physical evidence, compile reports and often testify in court. Most employers require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a physical or forensic science to qualify for this position.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in a natural science, such as biology or chemistry
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 27% (much faster than average)
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $60,090

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description for a Medical Investigator

Medical investigators work for medical examiners' offices, gathering and examining evidence to determine the cause of death in criminal cases and unnatural or unattended deaths. They may be present at the scene of the death to ensure that collected evidence gets safely transported to the laboratory for analysis. They also obtain medical records from hospitals and offices for evaluation. Once they have completed their investigation, medical investigators summarize their findings in writing and give verbal reports. They can serve as expert witnesses and testify in pre-trial and court hearings.

Duties of a Medical Investigator

At scenes of death, medical investigators collect physical evidence from suspects, the deceased and the scene itself to bring back to the laboratory. They may interview and take fingerprints from suspects or dust for fingerprints at a scene. Investigators also gather hair, blood, tissue and other biological evidence. They take photographs of the scene, and some medical investigators may perform accident reconstruction.

Medical investigators examine the collected evidence back at the laboratory, as well as look for more evidence from the body or remains. Some investigators are experts in certain kinds of evidence, such as DNA, blood analysis or firearms residue. They can take bodily fluids from and x-rays of the remains and study any marks, bruises or bullet wounds on the body for evidence of foul play. Decomposition rates are also assessed to determine time of death, and forensic techniques are used to identify remains.

Medical Investigator Salary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2015, forensic science technicians earned a mean annual salary of $60,090. They were expected to see a 27% growth in employment from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than average--mainly due to scientific and technological advances.

Medical investigators work in the forensics field where they determine the cause of death in crime or suspicious circumstances, sometimes specializing in a certain area of forensics. A bachelor's degree in forensic science is usually required for this job. Jobs in this field are expected to grow at a much faster than average rate through 2024, and the average salary in 2015 was almost $61,000.

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