We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Criminal Investigator do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
PracticalAdultInsights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PracticalAdultInsights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A criminal investigator is a law enforcement professional who attempts to solve crimes, identify and detain suspects, and prevent future instances of criminal activity. Professionals may work alone or in investigative teams to uncover facts about a case. An investigator may specialize in analyzing evidence and information from a crime scene, conducting interviews and searches, or performing surveillance. Depending on a person's specialty, the responsibilities and requirements of the job can range greatly.

Experts who specialize in crime scene investigation are often degree-holding laboratory technicians and technologists who work to uncover the details of a crime. Crime scene investigators may carefully examine a scene and collect evidence such as weapons, clothing samples, and fingerprints. Investigators frequently bring the evidence to a laboratory for intensive studies and experimentation. Among many tasks, they may determine ballistics information by performing firearm evaluations or confirm identities by extracting DNA from clothing samples. They write reports based on their findings and frequently appear in courts as expert witnesses.

Some criminal investigators engage in covert surveillance operations to expose criminal activity. Such investigators may install and monitor surveillance equipment or wear disguises to find out more about a suspicious person or organization. They may be required to follow suspects, carefully documenting their whereabouts and conversations. Investigators may also spend a large amount of time tracing phone calls and performing exhaustive background checks and Internet database searches.

When a suspect is detained, a investigator often interrogates him or her to find out more facts about a case. Investigators may also interview witnesses and other people who may have relevant knowledge about the suspect or crime scene. After obtaining a search warrant, a team may explore a suspect's home, business, or property. Searches frequently reveal new pieces of evidence, such as stolen items, money, letters, and weapons, that confirm a suspect is involved with a crime.

To become a criminal investigator, a person must typically have at least a high school diploma or GED. Most police bureaus at local, state, and federal levels of government prefer to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees and experience in the field. Since many crime scene professionals perform laboratory research, they benefit from obtaining computer science, biology, and chemistry degrees. A degree in criminal justice or police science is helpful to other types of jobs. Those with previous law enforcement, security, or military experience generally have better chances of obtaining work in this profession.

PracticalAdultInsights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon930658 — On Feb 05, 2014

I'm taking a criminal justice class currently and to all of you who say you want to do it because of what you saw on a TV show, it's way different in real life. There is a huge difference between the glamour of television and the horrors of real life situations. Just be careful and know what you are getting yourself into.

By anon302421 — On Nov 09, 2012

This is a great article. I am 14 years old and I watch "Criminal Minds" all day long. I love that show and I want to be an investigator. That's my dream.

By anon283010 — On Aug 01, 2012

I don't see anything here related to the physical requirements of the job. If you are interested in being a sworn law-enforcement investigative officer you need to be fit, able to control violent suspects, willing to engage in deadly force, train and qualify in firearms, and able to effect arrests of resisting subjects. The job is not like TV or movies. Talk to someone who does the job. Also, the federal government does have a maximum hiring age.

By anon166145 — On Apr 07, 2011

You are never too old to be an investigator. On the contrary, age and wisdom can be a valuable asset. The best attitude is to always continue learning and growing. I have wanted to be one since I was in 10th grade at 14 years old.

I have been a licensed PI since 2000. Great article and explanation of what the career field is like and requires. Not an easy path, but very rewarding and interesting. I've never been bored. Good luck all you future investigators. Respectfully, "The RightPI"

By anon162939 — On Mar 25, 2011

i love this article. I am fourteen and wondering what i would like to be when i grow up and after reading this article, I decided being a criminal investigator is what i want to do. -Brenda

By anon152507 — On Feb 14, 2011

In which colleges can I study criminal investigation?

By anon148957 — On Feb 02, 2011

I am a Criminal Investigator, and enjoy every minute of it, and this is a very good article explaining the nature of the job.

By anon145283 — On Jan 22, 2011

This is a very good article that explains what a criminal investigator does. Thank you for creating this website you really helped me.

By anon142103 — On Jan 12, 2011

i agree! this article give you enough information about this career and it is very helpful to someone who is still not sure which path to go for. thank you for providing me with the information i needed!

By anon136735 — On Dec 23, 2010

I am 12 years old and I love watching CSI and things like that and since watching I want to become an investigator really bad. It may have even been since I was about 10 years old since I wanted to be one.

By Madelyn Negron — On Nov 03, 2010

I'm 44 years old and I'm thinking about going back to School to become a criminal investigator. Am I too old?

By anon121762 — On Oct 25, 2010

I'm seventeen and taking university courses. I've always wanted to become a criminal investigator or CSI. It's what I've wanted to do since I was ten!

This article gave me a general idea of what I need to do. Thank you!

By anon112647 — On Sep 21, 2010

I am 16. I am taking college courses now and i want to be a criminal investigator.

By anon111477 — On Sep 16, 2010

I am only 11 but i would love to be a investigator.

By anon104424 — On Aug 16, 2010

I'm 19 and I am going to become a criminal investigator! I really never wanted to until three years ago. I want to do this because of my brother. He didn't deserve what he got.

By anon97703 — On Jul 20, 2010

i am 15 and i love to watch criminal minds. that's when i knew i wanted to be a criminal investigator.

By anon92090 — On Jun 25, 2010

I'm only 14, but I have always wanted to be a criminal investigator and I honestly believe I'd be a pretty good one.

By anon67571 — On Feb 25, 2010

This is a great article!

By anon58956 — On Jan 05, 2010

This is one of the articles that gives enough information in becoming a criminal justice major.

PracticalAdultInsights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PracticalAdultInsights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.