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Crime-Scene Cleaner Careers: Job Duties and Salary

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

Once investigations are complete, sanitization professionals are often hired to decontaminate crime scenes.

Once investigations are complete, sanitization professionals are often hired to decontaminate crime scenes.

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 cleaning with crime-scene investigation and analysis, but the two fields are very distinct. While crime-scene investigation and specialty tasks like blood-spatter analysis are done by law enforcement professionals, cleanup and sterilization are usually performed by private companies.

What Do Crime-Scene Cleaners Do?

Crime-scene sterilization involves dealing with and removing bio-hazardous waste, including toxic waste, human remains, blood, vomit, excrement, urine, trash, drug paraphernalia, and all manner of other unpleasant smells and sights. The remediation of these factors is the primary job of a crime-scene cleaner. Cleanup and sterilization professionals are not allowed to enter a crime scene until the relevant investigation is complete, and they are not involved in the legal process or court proceedings at all.

When Did the Biorecovery Industry Emerge?

Historically, it was left to family or survivors to remove any remnants of violence, death, homicide, or suicide from their dwellings. In the 80s, however, murder rates began to rise, and so 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 titles depending on where you are in the world. Other names for the field include:

  • Biorecovery
  • Bio cleaning
  • Trauma cleaning
  • Trauma and crime-scene decontamination
  • Blood cleanup
  • CTS Decon

What Does the Job Involve?

There are many different types of crime scenes and other messes that cleaners encounter regularly. Although Dexter makes it look easy, cleaning up a crime scene can be a very difficult and involved process. Cleaners are on call 24 hours a day, and they are expected to perform a very unique set of tasks depending on the nature of the environment they are hired to sanitize or decontaminate. The table below lists a few of the most common materials, scenarios, and situations that biorecovery professionals clean up after.

Unattended Deaths

Accidents

Decompositions

Murders

Drug Labs

General Filth/Debris

Suicides

Needles and Other Drug Paraphernalia

Hazardous Chemicals

Bodily Trauma

Biohazards

Hoarding

Tear Gas/Chemical Weapons

Human Waste

Animal Waste

Cleaners that deal with bio-hazardous materials must careful and qualified.

Cleaners that deal with bio-hazardous materials must careful and qualified.

How Do Forensic Cleaners Deal With Hazardous Materials?

The most critical job of a cleaner is to ensure that an area is free of infectious materials and other hazards. Cleaners undergo extensive training to ensure that all regulations are followed in regard to bodily fluids and blood-borne pathogens.

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets forth strict requirements for the disposal of human blood, bodily fluids, body parts, and organs and requires cleaners to wear protective gear during all cleanup processes.

Cleaners must have a Hepatitis B vaccination, and many employers 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 almost all cleanup scenarios, cleaners are expected to remove any and all indication of the incident, do so in a timely fashion, and return the 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.

Crime-scene cleaning may not be pretty, but for those who can handle it, the pay isn't bad.

Crime-scene cleaning may not be pretty, but for those who can handle it, the pay isn't bad.

How Much Does Crime-Scene Cleaning Pay?

Starting salaries for crime-scene cleaners can range from around $35,000 to $80,000 a year. The high end of that range is for persons who are dealing with biohazard cleanup. If you don't mind working with anthrax on a daily basis, you may be well on your way to the bank. Realistically, however, there are not opportunities to work with biohazardous waste on a daily basis in most cities, so it's important to get excellent training and be hired by a reputable company.

What Do 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 an iron-clad stomach and a willingness to do things that are thankless, exhausting, and often uncomfortable—literally (hazmat suits are hot and heavy).

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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.

Comments

Kellie on September 05, 2020:

How old do you have to be to stary this job?

Paul on August 30, 2020:

Class A Professional Truck Driver

Max Edouard Duval on August 23, 2020:

I want this, where do I apply

Lyneth on August 04, 2020:

I need this job how could i apply im from Durban

minerva farias on July 17, 2020:

i live in Tucson Az. how could i get this job?

Amanda on May 08, 2020:

How do I get a job like this Im in Indiana

Jonathan Moore on May 03, 2020:

HOW DO I APPLY

Bryan McKnight on May 01, 2020:

How do i apply

Mariah c. on April 15, 2020:

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?

Tracy Cormier on April 07, 2020:

How do i apply

Brittany Contreras on April 03, 2020:

How do I apply?

O. Michael Hollingsworth on March 17, 2020:

Thank you!

Zin J on March 15, 2020:

Great, where do I start?

Sasha bell on March 13, 2020:

How do I get started?

effegegfe on March 06, 2020:

nice

Matriarch2015 on February 23, 2020:

Are there links to required certifications?

Judith H Bardischewski on February 22, 2020:

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

Dee Dee Reynosa on February 04, 2020:

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

Richard black on January 21, 2020:

Lives in scotland i could do this job

Alejandro Chantelle on January 16, 2020:

please how do I get started I'm interested

Hailey on January 12, 2020:

This looks fun

Erin on January 08, 2020:

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

How do I get started

marcia on January 07, 2020:

how do i get started i live in south africa

Wendy on December 27, 2019:

How do i get started and i live in niceville fl

Beverly thompson on December 05, 2019:

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

O Michael Hollingsworth on December 02, 2019:

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

Russell Ferreira on November 23, 2019:

Can I get info on being a cleaning tech

Gabriela da silva on November 16, 2019:

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

Edward on November 15, 2019:

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

Chelsey on November 13, 2019:

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

Karen Umstead on November 06, 2019:

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

Lynn Jones on October 25, 2019:

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

Felicia Williams on October 21, 2019:

Would like more information

DIANA MONTOYA on October 21, 2019:

I WILL LIKE MORE INFO . IM VERY INTERESTED

Rosa Cruz on October 17, 2019:

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

Cosmin Daniel Preda on October 09, 2019:

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

caleb on September 27, 2019:

how can i do this

Charlie Palmer on September 20, 2019: