Entering the world of criminal investigations can be one of the most rewarding fields that one can choose to enter. There are plenty of different duties one will have when they become a criminal investigator, and it's one of the most multi-faceted fields one can enter. It's exciting and rewarding but also challenging and at times stressful. Criminal investigators will secure a crime scene, gather evidence, collect information, analyze the data recovered, reconstruct crime scenes, and more. They'll often have to testify at trials and hearings and will spend time in the field, in the lab, and elsewhere. It is a field that relies heavily on science, on analytical thinking, and more. While a student's personal qualities are important for success in the field, they're only a small part of it. Students also need to have the best possible level of training and education in order to thrive in the field.
Average hourly wages in this field are more than twenty three dollars per hour, and benefits like retirement and insurance are also standard. This provides a solid level of professional rewards, and the personal rewards in the field are important as well and include the knowledge that you're helping to solve crimes and put away criminals. Also, the job field boasts a twenty percent growth rate over the next decade. This makes it one of the fastest growing fields you can enter and helps to highlight just why it's such an important field to consider.
Investigations Degrees Available
Associate's Degree - 2 years
Bachelor's Degree - 4 years
It's important to note that while there are many excellent criminal investigation degree programs out there, there are also many schools that offer criminal justice degrees that focus on the field of investigation. If you aren't able to find many investigation degrees, think about looking at criminal justice degrees since they'll cover the same issues in most cases and often be accepted for employment.
A two year associate's degree program qualifies a student for entry level positions in the field. In most police departments, investigations is a position that you'll have to work your way up to. While a solid education will help, experience and performance will play a big part in your ability to obtain the job as well. An associate's degree program will cover things like criminal justice, math, ethics, arrest protocols, computer forensics, chemistry, psychology, crime scene investigation, law, and much more. It's a very broad subject, and one you'll have to pay close attention to in school if you want to graduate from.
A bachelor's degree program takes four years to complete and covers the same subject matter as an associate's degree, along with delving much deeper into other subjects. Math, English, and science are all covered at length. The bachelor's degree program will focus much more intently on the different sciences used in investigation, including chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology. It will also go into far more detail when discussing procedures, theories, techniques, and more. Bachelor programs often qualify students for leadership roles in the field and can usually lead to better employment options and better advancement.
Basic Admission Requirements
Admission requirements for these programs will vary a good bit. In most cases those enrolling in an associate's degree program will need to hold a high school degree and will usually have to submit their GPA scores and transcripts. Some schools will also ask for things like essays, personal statements of intent, letters of recommendation, and more. It's worth mentioning that bachelor's degree programs will usually be much more difficult to find acceptance into. Students will also need to pass drug screenings and go through a criminal background check for some programs, but most certainly will have to pass these requirements for employment. Those who have criminal histories will likely be wasting their time and energy by earning a degree in this field.
Traditional and Online Investigations Degrees Key Differences
The key difference between online and traditional investigations programs is simply that in an online program the student will take most of their basic classes online through distance learning methods. This requires that students be self-motivated, disciplined, and able to learn on their own. Traditional programs are harder to fit into a busy schedule but provide more guidance.
Additionally, the nature of the investigations field means that lab work and hands on training may be required as well. Traditional programs make this easy to do since they offer the different hands on training programs outright. Those enrolling in an online program may need to find local locations where they can complete their training if their program isn't linked to a nearby school.
Tuition for these programs varies tremendously and can range from four thousand dollars per year all the way up to more than forty thousand dollars per year. The school and type of program one enrolls in will have the biggest influence on their overall costs. There are also plenty of different financial aid options available that can make it much easier for students to enroll in a quality program and not have to worry about finding the money. Grants, loans, scholarships, and other financing options are all worth looking into.
Accreditation is important since it will impact a graduate's ability to find work and to gain certification. Licensure is usually required to find work in the field, and in many states only graduation from an accredited program will qualify one to sit for the licensing exam. In short, taking the time to find an accredited degree program is of the utmost importance for anyone hoping to enroll in these programs.
Finding the Right Degree
Finding the right degree program for you is relatively simple to do. You simply need to take a few minutes to consider what the requirements for becoming an investigator in your area are. Once you know that, find a program that covers all of the different requirements and gives you a full preparation in the subject. You'll need to decide between traditional or online programs as well, so consider what each one offers and whether or not they're a good fit for you. Do this, and you'll pick the best degree easily.