Responsibilities and Nuances of a Criminal Investigator Job

February 07, 2023 · 8 min read

A criminal investigator is a professional who is responsible for gathering and analyzing evidence in order to solve crimes. Their main tasks may include:

  1. Conducting investigations: Criminal investigators are responsible for conducting investigations into criminal activities, including gathering and analyzing evidence, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and preparing detailed reports.
  2. Collaborating with law enforcement agencies: Criminal investigators often work closely with other law enforcement agencies, such as the police, the FBI, and other government agencies, to gather information and share intelligence.
  3. Analyzing evidence: Criminal investigators use their expertise to analyze physical evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA samples, and other forensic evidence, to help solve crimes.
  4. Interpreting and presenting evidence: Criminal investigators must be able to interpret the evidence they gather and present it in a clear and concise manner, both in written reports and in court testimony.
  5. Building cases: Criminal investigators use the evidence they gather to build strong cases against criminal suspects and work with prosecutors to bring them to trial.
  6. Keeping up-to-date with new techniques and technologies: Criminal investigators must stay up-to-date with new techniques and technologies in order to remain effective in their work.
  7. Maintaining a high level of ethics and integrity: Criminal investigators must maintain a high level of ethics and integrity in order to maintain public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.

The role of a criminal investigator can be physically and emotionally demanding. Still, it is also rewarding for those who are dedicated to helping solve crimes and bring justice to victims and their families.


A typical day for a criminal investigator can vary greatly depending on the specific case they are working on and the stage of the investigation. However, here are some common tasks that a criminal investigator may perform on a daily basis:

  1. Reviewing case files and evidence: A criminal investigator may start their day by reviewing case files and evidence to determine what needs to be done next.
  2. Conducting interviews: A criminal investigator may conduct interviews with witnesses, suspects, and other individuals who can provide information relevant to the case.
  3. Analyzing evidence: A criminal investigator may spend time analyzing physical evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA samples, and other forensic evidence, in order to help solve crimes.
  4. Collaborating with law enforcement agencies: Criminal investigators often work closely with other law enforcement agencies, such as the police, the FBI, and other government agencies, to gather information and share intelligence.
  5. Preparing reports: Criminal investigators must prepare detailed reports of their findings and evidence, which may be used in court proceedings.
  6. Attending meetings: A criminal investigator may attend meetings with other law enforcement agencies, such as the police or the FBI, to discuss progress on a case and coordinate efforts.
  7. Testifying in court: A criminal investigator may be called upon to testify in court regarding their findings and evidence.
  8. Keeping up-to-date with new techniques and technologies: Criminal investigators must stay up-to-date with new techniques and technologies in order to remain effective in their work.

Keep in mind that the role of a criminal investigator can be physically and emotionally demanding, and a typical day can involve long hours, working weekends and holidays, and responding to emergency situations.


The job environment for a criminal investigator can vary depending on the type of the organization they work for and the specific case they are working on. However, here are some common aspects of a criminal investigator's job environment:

  1. Office environment: Criminal investigators may work in an office environment, where they review case files, analyze evidence, and prepare reports.
  2. Fieldwork: A significant amount of a criminal investigator's work may be performed in the field, where they conduct interviews, gather evidence, and participate in search and arrest operations.
  3. Collaboration with law enforcement agencies: Criminal investigators often work closely with other law enforcement agencies, such as the police, the FBI, and other government agencies, to gather information and share intelligence.
  4. Courtroom environment: Criminal investigators may also work in a courtroom environment, where they may testify in court regarding their findings and evidence.
  5. High-pressure and stressful environment: The role of a criminal investigator can be physically and emotionally demanding, and they may work long hours and respond to emergency situations.
  6. Safety concerns: Criminal investigators may encounter dangerous or volatile situations while performing their duties, and they must be prepared to take appropriate action to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Overall, the job environment for a criminal investigator can be fast-paced and demanding, but it can also be fulfilling for those who are dedicated to helping solve crimes and bring justice to victims and their families.


Criminal investigators can work in a variety of spheres, including:

  1. Law enforcement agencies: Criminal investigators are employed by various law enforcement agencies, such as local police departments, state police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  2. Government agencies: Criminal investigators may work for other government agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Secret Service.
  3. Private organizations: Some criminal investigators may work for private organizations, such as private investigation firms or security companies, where they are hired to conduct investigations for businesses or individuals.
  4. Military: Criminal investigators may also work for the military, such as the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) or the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), where they are responsible for investigating criminal activities within the military.
  5. Forensics Laboratories: Criminal investigators may also work in forensics laboratories, where they use their expertise to analyze physical evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA samples, and other forensic evidence, in order to help solve crimes.
  6. Courts and judicial systems: Criminal investigators may also work within the courts and judicial systems, where they assist in the preparation of cases for trial and provide expert testimony in court.

Regardless of the sphere they work in, criminal investigators play a critical role in solving crimes and ensuring justice is served.


Criminal investigators can have a variety of specializations within the field, including:

  1. Homicide: Homicide investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of murder and manslaughter.
  2. Fraud: Fraud investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of financial fraud, such as embezzlement, counterfeiting, and securities fraud.
  3. Cybercrime: Cybercrime investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of computer-based crimes, such as hacking, identity theft, and online fraud.
  4. Drug enforcement: Drug enforcement investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of drug trafficking and drug-related crimes.
  5. Forensics: Forensics investigators are responsible for analyzing physical evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA samples, and other forensic evidence, in order to help solve crimes.
  6. Child abuse: Child abuse investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of child abuse and neglect.
  7. Organized crime: Organized crime investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of organized criminal activities, such as racketeering, money laundering, and extortion.
  8. Counterintelligence: Counterintelligence investigators are responsible for investigating and solving cases of espionage and other threats to national security.

These are just a few examples of the specializations that criminal investigators can have. The specific areas of specialization for criminal investigators may depend on the type of organization they work for and their individual expertise and experience.


Being a criminal investigator is not an easy job. It requires a significant amount of knowledge, skill, and dedication. Here are some of the challenges of being a criminal investigator:

  1. Long hours and irregular schedule: Criminal investigators may work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and they may be on call 24/7.
  2. Physical and emotional demands: The job of a criminal investigator can be physically and emotionally demanding, as they may deal with violent and traumatic crime scenes and victims.
  3. Dealing with dangerous or volatile situations: Criminal investigators may encounter dangerous or volatile situations while conducting investigations, and they must be prepared to take appropriate action to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
  4. Requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Criminal investigators must be able to analyze complex data and information, identify patterns, and develop theories to solve crimes.
  5. Adhering to strict legal and ethical standards: Criminal investigators while conducting their investigations must adhere to strict legal and ethical standards, such as the rules of evidence and privacy laws.
  6. High level of responsibility: Criminal investigators have a high level of responsibility to the public, as they play a critical role in solving crimes and ensuring justice is served.

Overall, being a criminal investigator is a challenging and demanding job. Still, it can also be rewarding for those who are dedicated to helping solve crimes and bring justice to victims and their families.

by Olena Sobolieva

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