Several hit television shows have given viewers a peek into the field of crime scene and forensics, and many of those viewers have found it an enticing field. With all this attention, competition for positions in this sector can be tough. By completing a crime scenes and forensics degree program, you can show potential employers that you have what it takes to get the job done both in- and outside of the lab. However, finding the time to get to campus-based classes can be a difficult proposition for some. This does not need to stop you, however: online crime scene and forensics degree programs can take the pressure of time and transportation off your shoulders, and we're here to help you find just the right program to suit your needs.
Students looking for an online education in crime scene and forensics may be able to put this list to good use. We devised this list using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our unique methodology. Without further ado: our list of featured online colleges for crime scene and forensics.
It would be understandable if a new student just starting an online program for crime scene & forensics felt worried that the field might be too much to handle. To help put such uncertainties to rest, this section is a sneak peek of some common courses that may be found in these programs and the skills that will be important for the coursework and the careers to come afterwards, providing a brief overview of what to expect in these programs.
Online programs for crime scene and forensics strive to give students a genuine view of what it's like to work in the field. The following are examples of some of the more common classes that may be available in the program, depending on the specific school students enroll in.
Crime scene investigation and forensic analysis requires the ability to reconstruct a crime and find the truth of how it occurred. This is a vital piece of the criminal justice system, and students in online programs for crime scene and forensics are exposed to the skills they need to provide that piece. The following are examples of some of the relevant skills students may obtain in their program.
The science behind crime scene investigation and forensics is always evolving, so it's a good idea for people in these jobs to stay abreast of new developments. One way these professionals can keep their knowledge current is by earning a certification — which can also open doors in their careers.
Those who are interested in a credential can get one from the International Association for Identification, which offers the following designations:
In addition, the International Crime Scene Investigators Association offers a certification for professionals with at least two years of experience working for a law enforcement agency like a state police department, municipal police department or country sheriff's office. The American College of Forensic Examiners Institute has designations for those who demonstrate expertise in areas like crime scene investigation, homicide, trials, death investigations and psychological autopsies.
Apprehending murderers to shoplifters and everything in between, crime scene and forensics professionals are on the front lines of the crime-solving business. Each worker in this field is part of an intricate puzzle that helps to apprehend offenders and prevent crimes whenever possible. These are their stories.
People who pursue detective and criminal investigator careers conduct investigations on behalf of local, state or federal law enforcement agencies. After they have finished their investigations, they make recommendations on whether or not district attorneys have enough evidence to pursue prosecutions. The specific job titles of these professionals include police detectives, criminal investigators, intelligence analysts, fire inspectors, immigration and customs inspectors, and special agents. Workers in these careers are responsible for examining crime scenes and making sense of the evidence, checking the condition of the victim, testifying in court, creating reports that detail their investigation, working with informants, interviewing witnesses, interrogating suspects, getting information from law enforcement databases and making predictions about possible future crimes based on past data.
Criminal investigators and special agent careers involve investigating suspected violations of local, state and federal laws, as well as working closely with prosecutors to secure convictions. They obtain warrants for searches and arrests, create investigation reports, collect evidence, conduct surveillance and serve subpoenas. Professionals are expected to have several important skills, such as active listening, verbal and written communication, time management, decision making and problem solving abilities. In addition, a certain degree of skill with technology is important, so they can use systems like the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and National Crime Information Center database. Extensive knowledge of public safety, law and government, and psychology is also relevant to the position.
People in police identification and records officer careers are responsible for collecting, identifying and classifying evidence at crime scenes — which goes a long way toward helping investigators and prosecutors as they work on cases. Specific job duties include packaging, storing and retrieving pieces of evidence; comparing fingerprints using the Henry Classification or Automated Fingerprint Identification systems; interviewing suspects, witnesses and members of law enforcement; presenting evidence in court; photographing accident and crime scenes; and searching a scene for trace evidence like fibers, hairs, fingerprints or glass fragments. To do this job, workers are expected to have strong monitoring, speaking, writing, complex problem solving and time management skills. These professionals are also known as crime scene technicians, forensic specialists, crime scene investigators and criminalists.
Intelligence analysts — also known as criminal research specialists and criminal intelligence analysts — use data to understand crime patterns. In many cases, these professionals can anticipate and prevent certain criminal activities, such as terrorist attacks. Their diverse job duties include: collecting human intelligence by interacting with crime suspects and witnesses; monitoring telephone calls and other communications to make predictions about future crimes; using databases and software that house crime information; preparing reports that describe the activities of an investigation; and collecting information using radar and radio equipment. Those who pursue intelligence analyst careers should have expertise about how different types of crimes, such as narcotics, gangs, car theft and money laundering, are performed, as well as how to combat and prevent them.
Forensic science technicians are on the front lines of investigations because they're responsible for collecting and analyzing the evidence that will be used during the course of a case. While some people have become interested in pursuing forensic science technician careers because of popular crime dramas on TV, these programs only scratch the surface of what these jobs entail. People who become forensic science technicians are responsible for handling and examining evidence that can solve crimes, which entails taking photographs and creating sketches of a crime scene; cataloging and preserving evidence; and determining the best method for collecting items at a scene. Back at the lab, their duties change, becoming focused on analyzing evidence using chemical and biological tests; examining items under a microscope; reconstruction crime scenes; and working closely with experts who have specialized knowledge, such as toxicologists, entomologists and odontologists.