How to Become a Police Sketch Artist: Career Roadmap
Research the requirements to become a police sketch artist. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in police sketch artistry.
Do I Want to Be a Police Sketch Artist?
Police sketch artists, also known as forensic or composite artists, interview victims and witnesses to create images of suspects. Their sketches may be used by police or released to the public to help apprehend criminals. Additionally, people in this position sometimes create age-progressed photos of missing persons or identify remains by bone structure. These sketch artists often work as freelancers for several police departments. Working on a freelance basis can mean a degree of freedom in scheduling, but working for law enforcement means that these professionals might be called upon at any hour.
Prospective police sketch artists typically possess some training in art and anatomy. The following table outlines the core requirements for police sketch artists:
|Degree Level||Requirements vary by employer; some postsecondary coursework is typically necessary*|
|Degree Field||Fine arts or a closely related major*|
|Experience||Requirements vary; some employers may look for professional art experience*|
|Key Skills||People skills, creativity, strong artistic ability*|
|Computer Skills||Familiarity with facial reconstruction software**|
|Additional Requirements||Ability to market services*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **University of Texas-Arlington.
Step 1: Complete Training
Police sketch artists need to have a background in art and anatomy in order to depict their subjects accurately. Training can be completed in many ways, such as through a university or through an International Association for Identification (IAI)-approved program, in which students need to complete between 40-120 hours. In addition to the artistic aspects of sketching, students will learn about areas involving odontology (the investigation of teeth by looking at abnormalities, development and structure) and osteology (function and structure of bones).
- Strengthen relevant skills. Prospective sketch artists can benefit from postsecondary education in art and anatomy. Some law enforcement agencies use digital imaging software to create composites and age-progressed images of suspects, so students may benefit from courses in computer science and graphic design as well.
Step 2: Take Forensic Art Courses
Aspiring police sketch artists can participate in government-sponsored programs or courses offered by established forensic artists. Programs typically cover composite drawings, age-progressed imagery, post-mortem imagery and forensic facial imaging. Training may also include interview techniques, use of visual aids, facial anatomy, courtroom testimony, special equipment and biological variations of race, age and gender.
- Earn certification. The International Association for Identification offers certification for forensic artists. Applicants must meet minimum education and experience requirements, submit a portfolio and complete a written exam.
Related to How to Become a Police Sketch Artist: Career Roadmap
- Recently Updated
Most criminal sketch artists, commonly called forensic artists, already have another law enforcement job, and full-time...
Find information about academic requirements, career outlook and salary potential for fashion illustrators. Learn what types of...
Police sketch artists, also known as forensic artists, work with law enforcement to create drawings of suspects based on...
Learn how to become a sketch artist. Research the education requirements, training, and experience you will need to start a...
- Seeing Things Differently: Artist Chuck Close
- Artist Vs. Illustrator: What's the Difference?
- Licensed Tattoo Artist: Job Description and Education Requirements
- Top School in St. Louis for a Career in Accounting
- Top College in Washington, DC, for Accounting Courses
- Missouri (MO): Overview of Missouri's Colleges and Schools
- Top Ranked Paralegal Studies Degree Program - Kansas City, MO