What are crime scene investigator apprenticeships?

Updated 24 January 2023

Crime scene investigators are responsible for collecting and preserving physical evidence at crime scenes. These investigators work with law enforcement agencies and private companies and are typically involved in forensic investigations. A crime scene investigator apprenticeship is one way of becoming a crime scene investigator, teaching you the academic and practical sides of the job. In this article, we look at what crime scene investigator apprenticeships are, what they involve, the required skills for one and potential career paths.

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What are crime scene investigator apprenticeships?

Crime scene investigator apprenticeships are highly specialised training programmes for people who want to work in the field of forensic science. The programmes prepare you for a career in law enforcement, where you're responsible for monitoring crime scenes and investigating any potential crimes committed by criminals. Crime scene investigator apprenticeships are a way to start a career in criminal justice without going through an entire degree programme.

Crime scene investigators work at crime scenes and collect evidence for criminal investigations. They ensure the scene is safe and then document what they find. They can also help identify victims or suspects through their work at the site.

Related: How to become a crime scene investigator

How to find a crime scene investigator apprenticeship

Here are a few ways to find a crime scene investigator apprenticeship:

1. Look at university courses

Before completing an apprenticeship, you could first complete an undergraduate degree or a foundation course related to crime scene investigators, including psychology or criminology. To learn more about these courses, visit your chosen university's website and look for information about the course. You may also find information about other options on their website, such as part-time or distance learning courses that may suit your needs better than full-time attendance.

Related: 9 criminology degree jobs (salaries, duties, requirements)

2. Look at colleges

To find crime scene investigator apprenticeships, look at colleges that offer a programme in crime scene investigation. These programmes are typically two years long and give you the necessary skills to become a crime scene investigator. You can learn how to conduct an investigation and gather evidence, identify potential suspects, collect physical evidence at the crime scene and document it properly to use in court.

3. Complete your GCSEs and A-Levels

It's common for apprenticeship providers to expect GCSEs and A-Levels for an apprenticeship. Your minimum requirements vary depending on which level you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for an apprenticeship at Level 1 or 2, the provider might ask for you to have completed GCSEs in English Language and Maths. At Level 3 or 4, the provider might ask for you to have completed A-Levels in both subjects and a subject like Biology or Chemistry. Some also ask for an A-Level such as Psychology or Sociology.

4. Qualifications in photography

Qualifications and experience in photography can also help you get a position as a crime scene investigator. The job of a crime scene investigator is to document the scene of a crime and collect evidence, mainly using photographs and swabs until forensic scientists process it. If you've worked as a photographer or artist before applying for this position, you can likely demonstrate these skills effectively.

Related: How to become a crime scene photographer in 7 easy steps

5. Get experience working with the public

Another way of getting a crime scene investigator apprenticeship is to get experience working with the public. You can start by volunteering with your local police department or attending community events and talking to people there. Showing that you're interested in serving your community can help make your application more memorable when applying for a job as a crime scene investigator apprentice. As a crime scene investigator, you interact with members of the public all the time. Whether you're dealing with victims or witnesses, your responsibilities involve making sure they feel comfortable and safe around you.

6. Get experience in working with sensitive situations

There are multiple ways to get experience working with sensitive situations. One way is to volunteer at a local hospital or clinic and help out in the emergency room. You can see how first responders work and how they interact with people in stressful situations. You also see what kinds of things they require when they respond to an emergency, so you can apply these lessons when you are looking for an apprenticeship as a crime scene investigator. The more time you spend around people who handle potentially difficult situations, the more prepared you are for what it means to work as a crime scene investigator.

7. Check with your local police service

If you're looking for a crime scene investigator apprenticeship, you may want to check with your local police service. Each local police service has its requirements and procedures for hiring new employees. You can learn more about how to apply and what qualifications you require by calling or emailing your local police service directly.

Related: Comprehensive guide to starting a criminal justice career

Useful skills for crime scene investigator apprenticeships

A few beneficial skills to help you become a crime scene investigator include:

Attention to detail

Crime scene investigators develop the ability to look at details in a situation and determine what they mean and how they fit together. A good crime scene investigator can notice when something appears out of place or if something has changed. They use this skill to determine which types of evidence are most relevant and identify connections between pieces of information.

Related: Crime scene investigator (CSI) CV skills and how to improve


As a scene investigator apprentice, you require patience to cope with the unexpected. The job requires you to think quickly and adapt to new situations, but also to think through things before rushing into action. You can learn from experienced scene investigators who guide you through the process of investigating accidents and they may have helpful tips for dealing with difficult situations that come up unexpectedly.

Independent working

Scene investigator apprentices work independently and with limited supervision while performing their duties. They also communicate clearly and effectively with other scene investigators and members of the public. Making decisions on your own and requires a high level of independence and initiative.

Legal knowledge

Being a crime scene investigator requires a good understanding of the laws governing your work. This includes knowing how to interpret legislation and apply the law. Apprenticeships are an ideal environment for learning more about regulations within the crime scene investigation field and what types of legal details to focus on during your work.

Potential career paths after your apprenticeship

Following the apprenticeship, you can continue in the role of a crime scene investigator or pursue other career paths. Some include:

1. Evidence technician

Average salary: £33,791 per year

Primary duties: Evidence technicians collect, preserve and analyse physical evidence related to criminal investigations. They often work with police officers who direct them on the best ways to perform their jobs effectively. Related to this, forensic technicians use scientific methods such as DNA analysis or fingerprinting to identify criminals or link them with evidence at crime scenes.

2. Forensic photographer/video specialist

Average salary: £35,865 per year

Primary duties: You may choose to pursue a career as a forensic photographer or video specialist after completing your apprenticeship. These professionals take photos and videos of crime scenes and compile them into reports for use in court cases. Forensic photographers/video specialists work well under pressure, have good communication skills and are detail-oriented.

3. Crime scene investigator (CSO)

Average salary: £37,160 per year

Primary duties: Your apprenticeship prepares you for the role of crime scene investigator. This role is responsible for collecting and documenting evidence from a crime scene. CSOs work closely with police investigators to gather information about the crime, such as location, witnesses and perpetrators. They then gather evidence and photograph it before storing it in an evidence locker at the police station.

4. Coroner's assistant

Average salary: £45,055 per year Primary duties: Coroner's assistants work under the direction of coroners who investigate deaths caused by accidents or sudden illness. They may also assist with autopsies or help prepare bodies for burial. Skills from a crime scene investigator apprenticeship help this role by helping you to cope with sensitive situations and giving you the attention to detail a coroner's assistant requires.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.

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