Crime Scene Cleaner Careers: Job Duties and Salary

Updated on May 8, 2020
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.

Crime scene cleaners sterilize crime sites after the investigation is complete.
Crime scene cleaners sterilize crime sites after the investigation is complete. | Source

Strong Stomach Required

If you faint at the sight of blood or get weak in the knees when you see vomit or bodily fluids, becoming a crime scene cleaner is not for you. Many people confuse crime scene analysis and investigation with being a crime scene cleaner. However, their courses of action are very different indeed.

Crime scene sterilization involves dealing with bio-hazardous waste, body fluids, toxic waste, remains, blood, human waste, and unpleasant smells. Remediation of these factors is the job of a crime scene cleaner.

Biohazard Symbol
Biohazard Symbol | Source

Where It All Began

Historically, it was left to family or survivors to remove any remnants of violence, death, homicide, or suicide. In the '80s, murder rates began to rise, as did the need for sanitation services. Over the years, the industry has grown into such a popular field that it has garnered television shows, documentaries, and its own cult following. Crime scene cleaners go by various names depending on where you are in the world. Other names include:

  • biorecovery
  • bio cleaning
  • trauma cleaning
  • trauma and crime scene decontamination
  • blood cleanup
  • CTS Decon

Crime scene sterilization involves the removal of bio-hazardous materials post investigation. They are not allowed to enter the crime scene until the investigation is complete and are not involved in the legal process or court proceedings.

What Real Crime Scene Cleaners Do

There are numerous types of crime scenes that a cleaner will encounter. Although CSI makes it look glamorous and Dexter makes it look easy, there is a lot more involved than just cleaning up after a crime. Cleaners are on call 24 hours a day, and they are expected to perform a very unique set of tasks, which include:

  1. death cleanup
  2. trauma cleanup
  3. unattended death cleanup
  4. suicide cleanup
  5. suicide-related death cleanup
  6. meth lab cleanup
  7. meth lab–related death cleanup
  8. accident cleanup
  9. biohazard cleanup
  10. blood cleanup
  11. decomposed body cleanup
  12. debris cleanup
  13. filth cleanup
  14. hazardous material cleanup
  15. hoarding cleanup
  16. homicide cleanup
  17. murder cleanup
  18. tear gas cleanup
  19. tragedy cleanup

In addition to the multitude of crime scenes and cleanup scenes, cleaners must be able to decontaminate entire areas of concern. It may also be their function to act in consolatory ways to the survivors and family.

Hazmat Suits
Hazmat Suits | Source

Dealing With Hazardous Materials

The most critical job of a cleaner is to maintain an area which is both infection and hazard free. Cleaners undergo extensive training to ensure that all regulations are followed in regards to body fluids and blood born pathogens. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets forth strict requirements for the disposal of human blood, body fluids, body parts, pieces, and organs. OSHA requires cleaners to wear protective gear during all cleanup processes.

It is required for cleaners to have a Hepatitis B vaccination, and many employers will encourage or require regular blood tests to ensure employees have not been exposed during a cleanup. This is especially important after needle-heavy cleanups.

In addition to the numerous types of cleanup scenes, cleaners are expected to remove any and all indication of incident, do it in a timely fashion, and return the existing space to its original state as though nothing ever happened. They perform this arduous task with great risk, often dealing with long hours and sometimes extreme situations.

Cash and Skull
Cash and Skull | Source

Salary

Salary range for a crime scene cleaner can start between $35,000 a year up to $80,000 a year. The high-end salary is for persons who are dealing with biohazard cleanup. If you don't mind working with anthrax on a daily basis, you'll be on your way to the bank. Realistically, there are not opportunities in most cities to work with biohazardous waste on a daily basis, so it's important to get excellent training and to be hired by a reputable company.

What You Need to Succeed in This Career

You don't have to have a college degree to be a crime scene cleaner, but you need a cast iron stomach and the willingness to do things that are thankless, exhausting, and often uncomfortable—literally (hazmat suits are hot and heavy).

Could You Do This Job?

Could you handle the stress of being a crime scene cleaner?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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    • profile image

      Van Daele 

      7 weeks ago

      One of the most unfortunate parts about this industry is that many companies are in it just for the money. I’ve come across several Youtube videos where these business have taken advantage of families who have reached out to them in desperation...after the unexpected loss of a loved one. If you are in Texas, then I would recommend https://www.biotechsdfw.com and https://www.biotechsonline.com This company truly puts the family’s needs first and it shows.

    • profile image

      Darrell Abbott 

      7 weeks ago

    • profile image

      Amanda 

      2 months ago

      How do I get a job like this Im in Indiana

    • profile image

      Jonathan Moore 

      2 months ago

      HOW DO I APPLY

    • profile image

      Bryan McKnight 

      2 months ago

      How do i apply

    • profile image

      Mariah c. 

      2 months ago

      I'd love to become a crime seen cleaner , are there classes i can take to study/ get training so im not completely new at the job?

    • profile image

      Tracy Cormier 

      3 months ago

      How do i apply

    • profile image

      Brittany Contreras 

      3 months ago

      How do I apply?

    • profile image

      O. Michael Hollingsworth 

      3 months ago

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      Zin J 

      3 months ago

      Great, where do I start?

    • profile image

      Sasha bell 

      4 months ago

      How do I get started?

    • profile image

      effegegfe 

      4 months ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Matriarch2015 

      4 months ago

      Are there links to required certifications?

    • profile image

      Judith H Bardischewski 

      4 months ago

      How do I get I get started.I live in Jupiter,Florida.I‘m interested to apply for a job in bio clean up. Thanks,Judith

    • profile image

      Dee Dee Reynosa 

      5 months ago

      I live in San Antonio Texas and I would like to apply for a job in bio clean up

    • profile image

      Richard black 

      5 months ago

      Lives in scotland i could do this job

    • profile image

      Alejandro Chantelle 

      5 months ago

      please how do I get started I'm interested

    • profile image

      Hailey 

      6 months ago

      This looks fun

    • profile image

      Erin 

      6 months ago

      I'm interested in becoming involved in this field of employment.

      How do I get started

    • profile image

      marcia 

      6 months ago

      how do i get started i live in south africa

    • profile image

      Wendy 

      6 months ago

      How do i get started and i live in niceville fl

    • profile image

      MikeMalone 

      6 months ago

    • profile image

      Beverly thompson 

      7 months ago

      All the information is helpful. However how can people obtain the training? Where is it located etc

    • profile image

      O Michael Hollingsworth 

      7 months ago

      I have a drug testings company. I would like to add crCrime scene clean up tom my services

    • profile image

      Russell Ferreira 

      7 months ago

      Can I get info on being a cleaning tech

    • profile image

      MikeMalone 

      7 months ago

    • profile image

      Gabriela da silva 

      7 months ago

      I need information on how to become a biohazard cleaner and forensics cleaner thanks

    • profile image

      Edward 

      7 months ago

      Please tell me how to get a job doing this kind of work.

    • profile image

      Chelsey 

      8 months ago

      Hello, I’m very interested in learning how to get a job in this field.

    • profile image

      Karen Umstead 

      8 months ago

      Hello I'm Karen I would just love to learn how to do this can you please tell me how to do this please

    • profile image

      Lynn Jones 

      8 months ago

      I am really interested in doing this line off work could i have more info on how i could get a job doing this please

    • profile image

      Felicia Williams 

      8 months ago

      Would like more information

    • profile image

      DIANA MONTOYA 

      8 months ago

      I WILL LIKE MORE INFO . IM VERY INTERESTED

    • profile image

      Rosa Cruz 

      8 months ago

      I need information on how to become a biohazard cleaner. I am very interested in a career in forensics

    • profile image

      Cosmin Daniel Preda 

      9 months ago

      Hi please tell me what steps I need to take to get the job to work like scene crime cleaner.

    • profile image

      caleb 

      9 months ago

      how can i do this

    • profile image

      Charlie Palmer 

      9 months ago

      I cleaned up after the dead when working for Servpro. This was back around 2000. Very challenging but satisfying work.

    • profile image

      SALENA BARTEE 

      10 months ago

      My name is Salena and I am trying to start my own forensic and hoarding cleanup service in NC and I need to know how do I found out the state's requirements and certifications to have a successful service and also what schooling will I need to obtain the correct information?

      Thank You, in advance!

    • profile image

      Nancy Ruiz 

      10 months ago

      I’m looking for work and I’m interested in this particular job because for me it’s helping grieving families not having to endure anymore pain and that alone gives me satisfaction in what I’d be doing. I have a strong stomach and feel I can handle it.Information on getting started would be appreciated.

    • profile image

      eugene karema 

      10 months ago

      Am good to go, how do I apply

    • absolutelyclean profile image

      absolutely clean 

      12 months ago from West Colorado & Utah

      great, i also provide Biohazard Cleanup services in Western Colorado & Eastern Utah. Visit https://www.absolutelyclean.net/biohazard-cleanup/

    • profile image

      Dennis 

      12 months ago

      If i have a college degree?can it boost my salary ?

    • profile image

      Douglas braham 

      13 months ago

      What it do acquirement to become clean up I am already blood-borne certified clean up multiple blood a lot of it from people trying to Suicide herself so I've seen a lot of blood

    • profile image

      Nayely maradiaga 

      14 months ago

      Im interested but i havent have any traing

    • profile image

      Denise mcpherson 

      14 months ago

      Hi I live in Philly how can I apply for that type of job where do I go can anybody help me out there I need that job

    • profile image

      Kenny 

      14 months ago

      Definitely some great insight in here. For more info on how to become a crime scene cleaner check out https://biorecovery.com/ and https://www.crimescenecleanup.com/

    • profile image

      Julia Routledge 

      15 months ago

      How do i gain work in this industry please

    • profile image

      Tina Staley 

      16 months ago

      I work in surgery as an orderly done this job for almost 9 yrs looking for something different

    • profile image

      Edwards24t 

      17 months ago

      How do you get started in this field?

    • profile image

      Racheal 

      17 months ago

      Is there any certificates needed or i can get for forensic (crime scene ) clean up in new york?

      How do i start? Do i go to police stations and leave info?

    • profile image

      Kali 

      17 months ago

      Need more information about how to get started immediately with this.

    • profile image

      Nila foust 

      17 months ago

      How old do you have to be to do this sort of thing?

    • profile image

      Kyo 

      19 months ago

      I work in a hospital as a biohazard housekeeper. How do I start getting close to this job requirements?

    • profile image

      Charlie 

      19 months ago

      I'm 34 with lots of war time clean up. I could clean up body parts guts blood and eat a sandwich. I have burned human feces with jp8 (shitter detail) in Iraq and dealt with many other gross situations. Its not a matter of if I can do it, my question is how do I get certified officially trained and hired in hot springs village, Arkansas? Any information would be greatly appreciated ...charlesmddx@yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Kat 

      21 months ago

      So I am a 24 year old female and 4’10 and physically weak. I’m interested but will I be able to get a job for this?

    • profile image

      Blanca M 

      21 months ago

      I am interested, i have experience doing regular cleaning and industrial cleaning, now I’m a truck driver and some times I got to used chemical protection and respirator but I hope it can help me to be little more comfortable to do this job

    • profile image

      Nicole 

      21 months ago

      I understand everything this says. BUT, what is the pathway to becoming a crime scene cleaner? What College/University qualifications do we need??

    • profile image

      Pat 

      21 months ago

      I'm sure there are many like myself responding to this article of 2017, and having done such we're all pointing out that even though we do appreciate your telling us in some detail what it takes to become one ... you've failed to give information on how to actually receive training -- Why? Is it a secret? Must we go to our local police stations to find out -- what?

    • profile image

      Krystal Holley 

      21 months ago

      Im very interested also. I Know the

      sight of blood doesn't bother me. I watched my dog give birth and it didn't bother me lol. I know it can smell really bad but my stomach can handle it.

    • profile image

      JR 

      22 months ago

      They are hiring for people in Denver. Check coloradojobnetwork.com and the company's name is called Aftermath. Good luck! "Crime Scene Cleanup Assistant Supervisor"

    • profile image

      David Castillo 

      22 months ago

      would like more info ive been working in the OR for 29 yrs

    • profile image

      Sweeper 

      23 months ago

      You know, human bodies arent that different than pigs bodies just dont accidentally spill the brains for some reason I'd rather eat diarrhea than smell human brains

    • profile image

      Ashley 

      24 months ago

      I am very very interested anything that pays the bills for my family

    • profile image

      Antoinette Evangelista 

      24 months ago

      How do I apply, very interested

    • profile image

      Sandra 

      2 years ago

      I very interesting doing this job.

    • profile image

      Daniel 

      2 years ago

      The title is misleading. This blog post tells me "what one is", not "how to become one"

    • profile image

      Stacy Crockett 

      2 years ago

      How do I apply

    • profile image

      Crystal 

      2 years ago

      I don't know why but I love things like this I can take stuff like this Blood anything like that I could take it I want to try this but have one thing I have trouble reading I'm 25 years old I have two children but I want to go to school for this

    • profile image

      Carlos Marmol 

      2 years ago

      How do I apply ?

    • profile image

      Robert 

      2 years ago

      How do I apply

    • profile image

      MICHELLE 

      2 years ago

      How heavy is the hazmat suit?

    • profile image

      Robert Cekikj 

      2 years ago

      How can i apply for a crime scene cleaning job

    • profile image

      Piomontufa@gmail.com 

      2 years ago

      Very informative. Ty

    • profile image

      Tawana Shelton 

      2 years ago

      Yes. I have a cast iron stomach and the willingness to do things that are thankless, exhausting and often uncomfortable - literally (hazmat suits can be worn for my safety to get the job done.

    • profile image

      Patexiss 

      2 years ago

      I am interested in this career but I could not take it if it involved rodents or animals

    • profile image

      Mightgurl 

      2 years ago

      I'm a very curious person by nature... Dead bodies causes my mind to wonder about life... Now I am wondering if this is a feild for me... how would I go about finding out if this could be a job for me?

    • profile image

      Irina Quenga 

      3 years ago

      I am really interested in this job. I do have the stomach for because I used to work in a crime scene team. I am doing more research on where to apply for the job. Thank you for your article.

    • profile image

      Lauren 

      3 years ago

      I am interested in this field of work but have many questions. How can I get more info? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Demetria Grier 

      3 years ago

      I am very interested in changing my career and the abundance of information I have found on the internet is overwhelming. I want to do this and know I can. Any info you can provide on where to start will be GREATLY appreciated.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Williams 

      3 years ago

      Great read. It's unfortunate that one of the companies you accredit at the end is a horrible company. Aftermath, Inc, in our opinion, shouldn't be one of the top 2 you would recommend due to their unethical business practices.

      But, the rest of your content is pretty spot on.

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      chris 

      3 years ago

      I had no idea what went into this job, thank you. What are the requirements to be a cleaner? Like experience?

    • profile image

      Tiffany 

      3 years ago

      This is something I could see myself doing... yes I know most don't wake up and think... well I'm going to do crime scene clean ups, but someone has to do it. I wonder how one would acquire this job...?

    • profile image

      Chickpea 

      3 years ago

      I called for their services to clean up a very small bathroom. They wanted $40,000 to clean up and sanitize the room. Just a cleanup (without sanitize), they wanted $10,000.

      I did it myself.

    • profile image

      Mark Skirvin 

      3 years ago

      Like the idea that there alot of jobs that people do not want. How do you go about finding and applying for these jobs? Is there alot of up front training required prior to landing One of these jobs. That's where the trouble lies.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      sheldon, thank you for reading and for commenting. I don't know the answer to that but I would assume that in this day and age there is a way to clean them so they don't have to get a new one each time. Sorry I don't have a better answer but you can bet I'm going to find out. Best, -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Visit your local community college websites and check if they offer Forensic Science degrees. I know that Kaplan offers a course online but I don't know that it's an accredited course. Best of luck, -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Don, thank you for reading and commenting. I would love to receive anything you have about clean-up/remediation. I thank you very much for offering this to me. It's always good to have someone who is an expert give you some tips! Please email them to me. Best, -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Helen, thank you for reading and commenting. I tried to find a company in the UK but was unsuccessful. I would google Forensic Science schooling and see what you get - I assume you are writing from the UK. :) Best of luck -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Lorban, I would visit your local community colleges and see if they offer a degree in this field. Additionally, you can visit the govt. website to see if they have any job postings and what the requirements are. I would also visit a crime scene clean-up facility such as Aftermath -they place people everywhere. You can look at the link on this page. Best of luck, -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Donna, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I agree with you, I would love the detective work but not the aftermath! I appreciate your input. Thanks again, -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      moniece, Thanks for reading and commenting. I would contact your local community colleges and find out which of them offer degrees in crime scene or forensics because most departments prefer a degree. Additionally, get on to the local police department website or city website and find out if they have any availability or openings. Some forensics programs offer placement which is something you should also check into. Best of luck, -K

    • profile image

      moniece 

      3 years ago

      I have years of experience in hotel cleaning, environmental clean, healthcare cleaning. I would like to know how and where can I receive the training for crime scene cleanup in the Washington DC metro area. Please advise..

    • profile image

      Mindy 

      3 years ago

      So I'm very interested how do I get my foot in the door to do this job. I want to do it.. Can u give me any suggestions I really appreciate it..

    • profile image

      Don1 

      3 years ago

      Those two types have a beneficial factor by talking about they truely can be reduced by any person that cares enough to help others that speak with no words but will display with actions hoping tool notice before it's too late.......... The other types are top graphic and benefit Noone by mentioning.

    • profile image

      Don1 

      3 years ago

      Suicide scenes are all uniquely diffetent. The ones successful will almost always display 1 of 4 paths leading to the end. Depression and Loss of All Hope are usually easiest. It's been thought about for a long time and attempt to control their mess being considerate knowing someone will have to clean up. If the court system could tell the difference between a dead beat father and a father pleading to have their children UN- STOLEN by a manipulative mother to just be a part of their life.. These type would be greatly reduced..... Seeking attention type find they messed up and went too fast for real.. Huddle to compress the wound scared alone 'till time is up... Seeking attention to not be alone but are all alone at the scariest time if their life... Teach the children early that all kids(wierd, shy, awkward, handicapped, and even mentally disabled all need a friend.. You can see the loneliness within the scene. These should never happen and can easily be reduced.

    • profile image

      Don1 

      3 years ago

      Crime scene, suicide, and trauma remediation (clean - up) are all part of my many remediation responsibilities. Bio hazardous materials found on scene is unique in its aura. A wall is just a wall until that same wall has blood splater brain matter blasted into it. I've watched several individuals throw up inside of a full face respirator with a 100% sealed Hazmat suit sealed tight with it. Tightly sealed can feel clostriphobic knowing that when you are ready to take a break you have a 10 minute safety procedure to unsuit properly. Being surrounded outside your suit by the aura of the scene where tragedy took place.. And then filling your sealed respirator with your own bio hazard when even a drop can't escape from your face...eyes close naturally leaving you in the dark.. Clamping your mouth shut and unable to breath puke into your nose.... Your health, safety, sanity, and life is in your co-workers hands .. Even when I lead them outside and do an emergency decontamination, those 2 minutes of absolute helplessness can't ever be forgotten and most refuse any and all trauma projects ever lol. Those jobs are all about the detailed preparation for all of the hazardous issue that can arise in a second. I've prepared a collection of techniques that if followed correctly can make a Horrific scene safe, simple, and quickly completed properly per state standards. If interested I'll pass on a few of my personal trade secrets.

    • profile image

      Helen salisbury 

      3 years ago

      Hi my name is helen am 32 and have allways wanted to do this type of job. Am a mum of 2 age 8 & 10. And have a very strong stomach, live on the wirral in the uk. I send respect and love to you all hopfully one day i can live my dream and join a uk based team.

      Helen xxxx

    • profile image

      lorban 

      3 years ago

      I have worked in the medical field for a number of years now. Working in a variety of different fields such as nursing home care and ER and have to deal with odd smells. I have been out of a hospital setting for a long time and now work in a doctors office and now am looking for a change in scenery again. What is the best aspect of this job that you can tell me as it looks to be an interesting career change for me now that I'm in my 40's

    • profile image

      Donna 

      3 years ago

      I'm gonna keep it real, there's Absolutely No Way I could Ever do this job! I just became curious while watching an episode of The First 48, I can't imagine being a mom or dad or sibling that has to clean up after a family member commits suicide! Just the thought of it is Horrendous, I salute the people that work this job, they are very brave!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      3 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Teresa, Thanks for reading and writing. You should check the government jobs listing in your state. I would also consider the schooling which sometimes helps with job placement. Thanks again -K

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