SOCO, crime scene investigator, CSI officer
Scenes of crime officers (SOCOs) find, record and recover evidence from crime scenes.
Salary range: £16,000 to £35,000
How to become a scenes of crime officer
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- applying directly
You can do a degree in forensic science, or in a scientific subject like biological science or chemistry.
Some courses are accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
Police services and law enforcement agencies set their own entry requirements for this type of work. In general, you’ll need at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English, maths and a science subject.
Some employers may prefer A levels or equivalent, including a science like chemistry or biology.
Many employers ask for a degree and will expect you to have experience in police work or a related field, for example intelligence gathering and analysis.
Experience of dealing with the public and working in sensitive situations will be helpful.
Qualifications or experience in photography can also be useful and may be essential for some jobs.
You can find out more about working in forensics from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.
Check with your local police service for details of vacancies and entry requirements.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- knowledge of public safety and security
- customer service skills
- to be flexible and open to change
- the ability to work on your own
- legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
You’ll usually need a driving licence.
What you’ll do
In this role you could:
- preserve and protect crime scenes
- record crime scenes using photography and video
- capture fingerprint evidence
- find, record and recover evidence like DNA samples
- keep written records, produce statements and update information systems with evidence details
You could work on the streets, in a court, at a mortuary or at a police station.
Your working environment may be at height, physically and emotionally demanding, outdoors some of the time, dirty and cramped.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could become a senior or principal officer, with responsibility for managing a crime scene investigation (CSI) team.
You could also complete further training to manage investigations at major incidents.