Learn How to Become a Forensics Photographer

A forensics photographer might already be a working police officer or investigator, transitioning to this position, or may be a civilian photographer. Either way, expert knowledge of not just photography, but investigative police work and crime scene investigation is necessary. There is no specific certificate or degree required, and the experience or education required may vary from employer to employer. However, as much experience as possible in police work, forensics, crime scene investigation and photography would make an applicant more competitive.

The International Association for Identification (IAI) offers a certification for forensic photographers that have at least three years of photography experience, 40 hours of classroom photography courses from a college, police academy, FBI academy, IAI training course or related institutions. Eligibility for IAI certification as a forensic photographer also requires the applicant to be currently employed in the forensic science field where forensic photography is one of his/her duties. Education programs in forensic science, law enforcement, criminal justice, crime scene investigation or criminology along with a passion and additional courses in photography can help get started in this exciting and technical career.

Forensic Photographer Job Duties

Forensic means "having to do with law" and forensic scientists work to solve legal issues with science. Forensic photographers use photography to support evidence in a legal case in a court of law. They usually work for police departments, a coroner's office or sheriff's department. They take photographs of evidence and accident or crime scenes, and use digital imaging to enhance images like fingerprints, that can help in a case. They may also be present at a coroner's examination, taking pictures for detectives. Being a forensic photographer requires more than basic photography skills. They need to know precisely how the picture they take can accurately, or inaccurately, reflect the scene, and attention to detail is imperative. Like other police work, there are different shifts and work can involve calls at any hour.

Forensic Photographer Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for forensic science technicians is $52,840, while photographers earn $28,490. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Arizona Criminal Justice Schools

Campuses: Phoenix, Mesa

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate's - Criminal Investigations

Florida Criminal Justice Schools

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Campuses: Orange Park

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate's - Criminal Investigations

Campuses: Pembroke Pines, Port St. Lucie, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Tampa, Lakeland, Jacksonville, Miami, Daytona Beach, West Palm Beach

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Investigation
  • Associate of Science in Crime Scene Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Investigation - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Financial Crime Investigation

Campuses: Altamonte Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Miami

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate of Science in Private Investigation Services

Pennsylvania Criminal Justice Schools

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Campuses: Pittsburgh

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate's in Criminal Justice - Cybercrime

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Campuses: Wilkes-Barre

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate in Specialized Business - Security and Investigation

Online Criminal Justice Schools

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Campuses: Online

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate - Criminal Investigations (Online)

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Campuses: Online

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science - Criminal Justice - Forensic Science (Online)

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Campuses: Online

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Arts - Social and Criminal Justice - Forensics (Online)

Iowa Criminal Justice Schools

Campuses: Cedar Falls, IA, Cedar Rapids, IA

Degrees Offered:

  • Crime Scene Technician Certificate

Georgia Criminal Justice Schools

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Campuses: Columbus

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate of Occupational Science - Security & Investigation

Tennessee Criminal Justice Schools

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Campuses: Clarksville

Degrees Offered:

  • Associate of Applied Science - Security & Investigation

Colorado Criminal Justice Schools

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Campuses: Aurora

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Investigation

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Program outcomes vary according to each institution's specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guaranteed.
Earning a degree may not qualify you for specialized careers that require more education or experience in the field.