How to be a CSI?

People often ask me what experience, qualifications and training is required for the role of CSI in the UK.

Each Police force will advertise CSI vacancies as and when they become available. The role is very popular and as a result will attract many more applicants than other vacancies may. When I applied for my role, there were over six hundred applications.

It is important to understand the role and exactly what it entails. Many people have ideas about the role thanks to many popular television series, but I'd recommend the role be researched to understand what is fact and what is fiction.

Most vacancies can be found on the Internet, websites such as http://www.allpolicejobs.co.uk/ and Police force's own websites will advertise the roles.

Applicants should have the following:

GCSEs, A-Levels or Equivalent

Some forces ask for basic GCSE's which should include English, Maths and Science. A good grade in Science will be a great benefit.

Degree

Some Universities now offer courses in Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science. Qualifications in such subjects will obviously help with your understand of the role and it;s demands. However, it is important to remember that a Degree alone will not guarantee you a career as a CSI and many CSIs do not have Degrees in the subject.

Photography

As the role will involve a lot of photography, a qualification in photography or experience will be an advantage over candidates without camera knowledge. Most forces now use digital cameras, so it is important to understand how to use them.

Communication
Once competent, CSI's often work alone and will visit most crime scenes without a crew mate. It is therefore important to be able to communicate effectively with people you haven't met before. Most people you will meet would have recently been a victim of crime so it is important to be sensitive and diplomatic.

Attention to Detail

A CSI will be expected to interpret and notice things that others do not. Attention to detail is imperative and can be the difference to piecing together what has happened a scene successfully or not.

Driving Licence

You will be expected to drive to Crime Scenes and will require a full UK or EU driving Licence.

The NPIA

The National Policing Improvement Agency instruct a total of 9 weeks residential training for all CSIs in UK Home forces and Non Geographical forces such as the Ministry of Defence Police and British Transport Police.

Completion of this course is often requested when a vacancy arises. This would obviously only be relevant to those who have previously been CSIs or are currently employed by another force.

Future Blog entries will include the content of the course provided by the NPIA.

Experience
It would be useful to have an understanding of the Criminal Justice System and in particular Policing in the UK. Police forces have many roles for staff members that are not sworn officer roles and would give you the experience you may need. The role of Special Constable is a great way to gain experience that many employers would value to no end.

See http://www.policespecials.co.uk/ or http://www.policecoulyou.co.uk/ for more information.

During your time as a CSI you can expect to see many things that may be disturbing or emotional. There may be times when you are the first person into a scene where someone has been fatally wounded or injured. Sometimes you will see things that maybe no one you know has ever seen. It is important to be able to deal with these things, professionally and without being attached emotionally. Modern Police forces have fantastic support networks and will provide any support required to it's staff.

Please, if I have missed something, reply via a comment and I will update to include an answer for you.

I hope this helps.

CSI Guy

26 comments:

  1. Hi there - Can I check who you are talking to about the NPIA course content for CSI training? It probably makes sense to go through me. Perhaps you can call me on 020 7147 8310 or email me at vincent.burke@npia.pnn.police.uk to discuss further. The most recent info about CSI training is at -http://www.npia.police.uk/en/5235.htm.

    Many thanks.
    Vincent Burke, Senior Press Officer, NPIA

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  2. Hi there. I've seen most current vacancies for Crime Scene Investigators require previous completion of the NPIA Initial Crime Scene course.
    When you applied to be a CSI did you find this to be the case, and if so, was it an issue if you hadn't previously completed it.

    It seems like they want people with previous experience, which seems to mean to get into this field is relativley difficult. Obviously if I was applying I'd speak to the force in question anyway, but I'd just like to hear your experiences :)

    It's a possible career after uni at the moment, although I'm interested in the Hi-Tech Crime side of things as well.

    Keep up the blog, it's very interesting!

    Harry

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  3. Hi Harry,

    Some forces will ask for prior completion of the NPIA CSI Initial Course or Module 1 in relation to the new courses.

    This is the residential course provided at a National Training Centre in County Durham.

    It really depends on the force in question, but as you can imagine, if you have completed the course, it will give you a great advantage over applicants who have not.

    A a rule, most people who attend the CSI courses are sent by police forces, who also pay. However, I do know of a few people who have paid to attend with the hope of getting a job afterwards. Its a risky option, and can be expensive one for a private applicant.

    I have seen job vacancies that ask for it but also suggest that you are willing to attend if you were successful in the application. The whole course is a total of 9 weeks, split into a 5 week and a 4 week residential course. Its a long time to be away from home and depending where you are it can also be a lot of travelling!

    If there is a specific vacancy you'd like me to look at let me know. More than happy to help.

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  4. Hi 'CSI Guy',

    I'm a psychology graduate and have been accepted into UCL to complete a MSc Crime and Forensic Science course but I'm in a bit of turmoil over whether it will actually help my chances of getting a job as a CSI or not. One of the modules involves spending a week with the Met Police training academy looking at a mock crime scene, something I thought might provide some good experience, others look at osteology, geoscience, the judicial system, fraud etc, none of which seem to appropriate prepare students for their chosen career paths.

    Any advice you could give on the matter would be appreciated!

    Emma

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  5. Hi CSI guy,

    I have been interested in taking up a career as a CSI since I quite young. I've no idea how to go about this. I don't know the best action to take ie. courses, where to find these courses, career pathways etc. It would be extremely helpful if you responded to this post with ideas or suggestions or even advice. I'm very passionate about the career I want to go into and have done several searches into university courses aswell as other general help I can get with this and have not had the most successful outcome.
    Thank you so much for you time!

    Marisha

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  6. hello csi guy
    One of the reasons i am drawn to this career path is because i think all crimes should be solved. It says in a lot of places that you will need to have a good level of physical fitness to become a csi. If you are able to, could you please explain what this means,does it mean taking a fitness test before you take the job or something?
    If you could provide me with an answer i would be extremely grateful. Your blog was already quite useful. Thank you for your time! :)

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    Replies
    1. You need to be able to work for long periods with little breaks, you'll be lifting things, bodies for example, they're heavy.. You don't need to be superman but you can't be lazy. It's not suited to a lazy person. Glad I've helped!

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  7. Hey. You really helped me. Thank you

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  8. Hi,
    I am quite confused on the different pathways to becoming a CSI. I want to do a degree in biochemistry at university, bachelors for sure, and then maybe a masters. Will this allow me to become a CSI or do I have better chances of becoming a forensic scientist?

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  9. i really want to become a crime scene investigator, i got high grade in science but i really need to work hard in maths, im trying very hard to meet my goal

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  10. Hey I'm only a teenager going into yr9 was just wondering if anyone could give me some help to what to focus on thanks.

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  11. Hi CSI guy,

    I have had a passion for the crime scene investigation pathway for years. I got my GCSEs in English and Maths as well as double science and currently doing an access to science course which covers three A level equivalents which are Biology, Chemistry and Psychology. I have looked at degrees for a while but I rather just try and get into the work instead as i love being hands on and doing the job, with photography i have friends who have taken Recognised qualifications can I learn with them or would i need a qualification as well?

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  12. Hello,
    I'm a teenager in Year 9 and about to pick my GCSE Options. I would like to be a CSI and have done for a while. Could anyone help me on what to focus on? Thanks in advance.

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  13. Hi guys,
    Im Laila im in year 7 and I'm at a over average level in Science I'm studying year 9 biology,chemistry and zoology. Its hard because in my class I'm doing different work to my friends and will be doing my GCSEs soon. I know to be a CSI you need to have 3 GCSEs : English , Math and Science but i don't know what grade you have to get ? will someone help .....

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    Replies
    1. i think you have to get at least c in english but i dont know about the rest have a look online

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  14. I have a problem, im in university studying subjects that have nothing to do with CSI accept from photography which ive always had a passion for. Stupid question but Ive changed my mind on what I want to do! Is there a CSI apprentsship or will i have to redo college? And if so what courses would help?

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  15. so i want to do this when i am older i love crime and love investigating if so what subjects would i have to pick for my GCSE's? I know i have a while before getting in but its better to start earlier then later.

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  16. HI CSI GUY, I have a question...or questions...
    I'm currently a full time student doing my A-Levels in psychology, sociology and RE. I'm NOT taking a science subject in A-Levels will I still be able to get into forensics? Many people say I wont be able to and that I need a science A-Level.
    Also will university's take me on to do that course? And what course should/need (to) I take?
    Sorry for a lot of questions...
    I would be extremely grateful if you could reply ASAP.
    Many thanks,

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  17. Hello there, Im currently in need of help as I have a strong interest in Forensic Photography, however feel that I need to speak to someone who is in that career path to really get a personal response of the job. If you could possibly give me some direction as to who is best to speak to? and if possible give me some sort of idea as to what the job is like, I would be so thankful

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  18. I have just spent 3 years at college and 3 years at uni, now have a degree in film making. I was reminded that I used to love science, chemistry, forensics and CSI. I don't know what happened to why i didn't take this further as a career and now I feel ive wasted 6 years. Is it too late to turn things around? I don't see how I could do a degree in science or CSI when I've just done one. I don't think your able todo two degrees :(

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  19. I have just spent 3 years at college and 3 years at uni, now have a degree in film making. I was reminded that I used to love science, chemistry, forensics and CSI. I don't know what happened to why i didn't take this further as a career and now I feel ive wasted 6 years. Is it too late to turn things around? I don't see how I could do a degree in science or CSI when I've just done one. I don't think your able todo two degrees :(

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  20. We can help people be better at their job, People development, self-awareness and personal capabilities; or change career and find a new start.

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  21. Will a associate degree in criminal justice work in the UK I live in the us

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  22. Hey CSI guy. I am currently in year 11 and will be taking my GCSEs in May. I have applied for a college in my area and im looking to study business, psychology and sociology. Unfortunately in psychology the college does not cover forensic science anymore. Sociology covers crime and deviance and after college I'm looking to go to uni and study criminology as well as the other courses i will need to take to have a chance in this field. Is forensic science something i can take later on since I am missing out in it in college or is is a subject i need to be able to have a chance?

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  23. Hi there,

    I was just wondering if I wanted to be a CSI within London, would I have to live in London for 3 years prior to joining, like if you wish to join the Metropolitan Police?

    Thanks
    Lauren

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