Crime Scene Photography Training and Education Program Info

The most common pathway to becoming a crime scene photographer or forensic photographer is to complete a training program in general photography and then apply to work with an investigative police unit. However, some schools do offer specific programs related to the field, such as a forensic photography certificate program.

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Forensic Photography Certificate

Forensic photography certificate programs are most commonly available through the continuing education and extension departments of 4-year universities. They are designed for individuals who are interested in working in the very specialized branch of the photography field that deals with crime scene investigation. A certificate program in the field will provide students with the technical training necessary to take accurate photographic evidence at the scenes of crimes, accidents and even natural disasters.

Students enrolled in a forensic photography certificate program learn how to select the appropriate camera equipment, lighting and composition for each individual crime scene investigation. They also learn how to work within an investigative unit by following regulations and maintaining accuracy.

Education Prerequisites

Certificate programs in forensic photography are not common, and their education prerequisites vary based upon their intended goals. Some programs are designed for law enforcement officials who are interested in learning more about the techniques of forensic photography, while others are designed for photographers who are interested in learning more about crime scene investigation.

Program Coursework

Forensic photography certificate programs include courses that cover technical crime scene photography processes. Some examples of topics covered include:

  • Digital photographic equipment
  • Introduction to forensic photography
  • Evidence photography techniques
  • Lighting and composition
  • Digital image processing
  • Photogrammetric principles
  • Chain of custody and protocols
  • Videography
  • Forensic archaeology

Popular Career Options

A forensic photography certificate program can prepare individuals to work solely as a crime scene photographer, but can also act as an additional credential in the following types of positions:

  • Police officer
  • Forensic investigator
  • Private detective
  • Freelance photographer

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not make a distinction between forensic or commercial photographers. However, it estimates a 13% job growth for all photographers in the coming 2010-2020 decade. The BLS also reported in 2012 that photographers of all types earned $28,490 as a median yearly salary.

Certification Options

The International Association for Identification (IAI) offers certification in the field of crime scene photography. To earn certification in the field, professionals must be employed in the field of forensic science and must have at least three years of experience working in photography. They should also have completed at least 40 hours of photography courses, such as those offered through a forensic photography certificate program.

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