I have always had a major interest in crime scene investigations and forensic science, but I did not realize, until these past few years, that they are separate careers almost entirely. However, they do have some similarities in the occupations and the people they work with. On crime shows, such as CSI, the entire crime scene investigation team is made to look like they do the work of the forensic experts as well. Although, in real investigations, the crime scene investigators work in the field by collecting evidence and trying to solve the overall case. The forensic scientists then analyze the separate pieces of data in a lab and report back to the investigators. While crime scene investigators and forensic scientists both gather and analyze data from the aftermath of the crime, the two careers differ in many ways.
A forensic scientist is a lab technician that processes and analyzes evidence to help law enforcement solve crimes. Forensic scientists tend to do most of their work in laboratories, as their main task is evaluating physical and trace evidence. Their education involves mostly science courses, such as biology and chemistry. They testify in court on behalf of the investigators and medical experts about the analysis of the evidence. Forensic scientists tend to work in a safe environment, as they rarely leave their isolated, controlled lab (CrimeSceneInvestigatorEDU, 2018).
A crime scene investigator is often a member of law enforcement that collects and handles physical and trace evidence at a crime scene. Crime scene investigators do their work in the field, finding and preserving the evidence that they find. Their education involves mostly courses on law and criminal justice. They talk with the family and friends of victims to help provide closure and answers. Crime scene investigators work at random job sites every day that could be unsafe or unsanitary (CrimeSceneInvestigatorEDU, 2018).
Both occupations are criminal justice-based as they deal with the collection and analysis of evidence in order to help law enforcement solve a crime. Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators earn around the same average annual pay, even though their job descriptions vary greatly. They both require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to begin work in their specific job field. Their skills are both equally complementary to the head detectives working to solve the crimes. Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators work together to ensure that the evidence stays untampered and protected throughout the entirety of the case (Ventures, 2016).
Crime scene investigators and forensic scientists must testify in court on behalf of the evidence and evaluations they find throughout the course of the case. This requires both occupations to complete detailed forms and reports on their findings as well. Crime scene investigators earn an average of $81,500 a year (CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools, 2018), while forensic scientists earn about $69,000 (Indeed, 2018). They both work about 40 hours a week plus whatever extra work is asked of them daily (CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools, 2018).
While both occupations play a pivotal role in interpreting and solving crimes together, they are also completely separate in their fields of work. Crime scene investigators find the evidence in the field, while the forensic scientists analyze it in the lab. Forensic scientists require a more sophisticated level of education, as they have to analyze the evidence using medical and scientific knowledge that they have obtained (Study.com, 2018). Crime Scene Investigator’s job environments can change on a daily basis, while Forensic Scientists stay in the same comfortable lab daily. Crime Scene Investigators can face harsh and extreme conditions, such as rain and snow, while Forensic Scientists stay indoors in a controllable environment (Williams, 2016).
People can apply to be a crime scene investigator with just a specialized degree or experience in a forensic field. This then leads to them getting a background check and on-the-job training. Crime scene investigators must be in good shape and health, as well as, mentally strong, as they will have to deal with mortifying crimes (CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools, 2018). On the other hand, forensic scientists must complete a pre-med minor after, or while, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a science-based field. Forensic scientists do not have to be physically fit, however, they must be mentally strong to analyze and evaluate all the evidence that goes through them on a day to day basis.
While crime scene investigators and forensic scientists both gather and analyze data from the aftermath of the crime, the two careers differ greatly in every way they are broken down. Forensic scientists process and analyze evidence to help law enforcement solve crimes. Crime scene investigators collect and handle physical and trace evidence at a crime scene. Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators work together to guarantee that the evidence stays intact and safe during the entirety of the case. The crime scene investigators work in the field by collecting evidence, then the forensic scientists analyze the separate pieces of data in a lab and report back to the investigators.
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