Odd Jobs: Crime-Scene Cleaner

If you are a fan of one of the popular crimes shows on television like CSI or LAW & ORDER, you’ve seen your fair share of gruesome crime scenes. You are probably well acquainted with how coroners evaluate a body for physical evidence of what killed or injured the victim. You know how crime scene investigators comb the crime scene for any clue as to how the crime was committed or who was responsible. You are also well aware of how the police use the evidence collected to question a suspect and try him/her in a court of law. But, what you never see on these shows is what happens to the crime scene after all evidence has been removed.

After the victims and evidence are taken away from the scene of a crime, professionals known as CRIME SCENE CLEANERS arrive to clean up the mess. CRIME SCENE CLEANERS are responsible for removing all traces of a crime, including blood, bodily fluids, and human remains that might be present. They have to use many different types of chemicals to remove stains and spots. It is not an easy of a job as it might seem. For example, a blood stain on a wood floor might require a different chemical to clean than a blood stain on a sofa. CRIME SCENE CLEANERS also have to use many tools such as blacklights and microscopes to make sure that they get even the smallest spots removed from the scene.

There is more to cleaning a crime scene than just getting rid of the blood and human remains. Crime scene investigators can make a mess when searching for clues. They use powders and chemicals to look for fingerprints and footprints. They may also tear down walls, pry through floors, or open up ceiling tiles to get information and evidence. CRIME SCENE CLEANERS have to clean up the debris from their work, which can be a long, tiring process.

If you conduct further research, please note that crime scene clean-up is often referred to as CTS DECON, or crime and trauma scene decontamination.

Above all, CRIME SCENE CLEANERS must be willing to spend their days looking at gross, ugly crime scenes. They must be able to stomach seeing and working with blood, human remains, and other remnants of a crime scene.

In working with these materials, CRIME SCENE CLEANERS must be very aware of the hazards involved. These workers should keep up to date on vaccinations and know how to protect themselves against infectious diseases found in blood and other substances. Also, CRIME SCENE CLEANERS must be able to recognize the dangers of building materials like lead paint or asbestos that they may encounter when cleaning or reconstructing a structure.

CRIME SCENE CLEANERS must be skilled at working with emotional people as well. Statistics indicate that over 40% of the time, CRIME SCENE CLEANERS must complete their work in the presence of the victim’s family or friends. These workers must be able to deal with the anger, guilt, or sadness displayed by those in mourning.

Finally, it is important for the CRIME SCENE CLEANER to have an excellent understand of how chemicals react to one another. Knowing what chemicals remove which stains and which chemicals, when mixed, are toxic is crucial.

No formal education is required to be a CRIME SCENE CLEANER. However, background in science disciplines like chemistry can be extremely useful when determing which chemicals remove certain substances. Also, knowledge of construction and/or building materials can come in handy. If you are planning a career as a CRIME SCENE CLEANER, you may want to consider taking science and/or industrial arts in high school or college. Even though it is not required, a person with a college degree could still hold this job.

The salary for CRIME SCENE CLEANERS is dependent upon several factors including geographic location, the crime rate in that location, type of services performed, and so forth. Some CRIME SCENE CLEANERS who are self-employed charge by the job. They market themselves to law enforcement agencies and charge between $500 and $750 per crime scene clean-up. Some scenes with multiple victims could cost as high as $10,000 to clean. Other CRIME SCENE CLEANERS work for larger companies who are contracted by police departments on an annual basis. Cleaners who work for these companies may get an annual salary, ranging from $35,000 to $80,000 per year. High-crime cities will pay significantly more than low-crime regions or rural areas. Regardless of how a CRIME SCENE CLEANER is paid, salaries are expected to rise a lot in the next few years.

The outlook for CRIME SCENE CLEANERS is excellent. Unfortunately, there will always be crime and the need for someone to clean up the mess. Advances in technology have given investigators more places to look for clues at a crime scene. When there are more places to look, more property can get destroyed. In turn, this creates a much larger need for CRIME SCENE CLEANERS than in previous years. This occupation is expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations. The largest growth will come in high-crime areas and large metropolitan areas, particularly on the coast.

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