Become a Crime Scene Cleaner: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Jan 15, 2020

Crime scene cleaners decontaminate and cleanup after a crime has occurred. Learn about the education requirements and get the salary and job outlook for this career.

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  • 00:01 Essential Information
  • 0:51 Career Requirements
  • 1:23 Training
  • 2:17 Qualified Employers
  • 3:03 Support Groups

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Should I Become a Crime Scene Cleaner?

Crime scene cleaners decontaminate a crime scene, while protecting both themselves and any evidence they find during their work. This is an important and challenging career requiring attention to detail, thoroughness and a high tolerance for coming into contact with potentially physically and emotionally upsetting materials.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None
Degree Field(s) Biorecovery training required by OSHA
License/Certification Voluntary certification available
Experience None; support group involvement can be valuable
Key Skills attention to detail; thoroughnes; high tolerance for coming into contact with potentially physically and emotionally upsetting materials
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $42,030 (for hazardous materials removal workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Regulations are in place to protect the safety of cleanup workers and ensure potentially dangerous materials are removed from the site. Insurance companies or property owners call crime scene cleaners to a site after law enforcement has collected evidence. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2018, the median salary for hazardous materials removal workers was $42,030.

No formal education is required to become a crime scene cleaner but completion of a professional training program is required to learn about safety and proper techniques. A biorecovery technician certification is available from the American Bio-Recovery Association (ABRA).

A crime scene cleaner should have perseverance and be detail-oriented. They should also develop emotional coping methods and techniques for stress management in order to deal with the pressures of the job.

Here are the four steps you can take to become a crime scene cleaner:

Step 1: Complete Biorecovery Technician Training

Biorecovery training courses provide students with bloodborne pathogen training required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which regulates workers, like crime scene cleaners, who are exposed to blood and bloodborne pathogens. These courses teach students the proper procedures for notifying law enforcement and handling the scene of a crime if new evidence is discovered during the cleanup process.

Students can learn about techniques for removing odors, cleaning body fluids, special equipment used to clean contaminated areas, and methods for personal protection. Students who complete biorecovery training courses approved by the ABRA and pass an exam are awarded the Certified Biorecovery Technician designation.

Step 2: Seek Qualified Employers

When seeking a position in this field, individuals can look for employers who meet OSHA standards for exposure to blood spills. Employers who meet these requirements should have a bloodborne pathogen exposure control plan. The plan includes training and procedures for handling and cleaning blood from a crime scene. Employers must also offer their workers a Hepatitis B vaccination, exposure evaluation and follow-up to remain compliant with OSHA regulations.

Employers of crime scene cleaners are also required to provide their employees with personal protective equipment, such as gloves, respiratory equipment and protective clothing that reduces exposure to hazardous materials.

Step 3: Look for a Support Group

Cleaning up a crime scene can take several days, and the individual situations could lead to stress or emotional issues. Instructors who prepare crime scene cleaners suggest that these workers seek support groups as one method to resolve any personal issues with difficult scenes or situations.

Step 4: Obtain Additional Training

Aspiring crime scene cleaners who want to be more marketable to potential employers might consider completing additional training, such as courses on drug lab decontamination. These courses can take up to two days and provide hands-on training on assessing a site and preparing a decontamination plan.

Crime scene cleaners who want to offer cleanup services for drug laboratories must also complete a training course in hazardous materials and OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard to meet federal and state requirements for the removal and handling of hazardous materials.

Becoming a crime scene cleaner involves making sure you have support and the ability to handle the things you may have to deal with, along with obtaining proper training to ensure you are meeting safety standards.

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