We're building a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Road traffic accident investigator Collision investigator

Road traffic accident investigators carry out examinations to work out why an accident happened.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You could get into this job by:

  • working towards a collision investigation course run by Ai Training Service (AiTS)
  • gaining experience in a related role, such as a police officer, and then working towards qualifications on the job

Some employers, like forensic crash investigation companies or consultancy firms, may expect you to have a degree in engineering or a related scientific or technical subject. 

The Institute of Traffic Accident Investigators has useful information about this career.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • an enquiring mind and problem-solving skills
  • the ability to analyse and compare data
  • a methodical approach to gathering evidence
  • maths and IT skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll be responsible for carrying out detailed examinations of traffic accidents.

You’ll collect evidence like photos, videos, witness statements and expert reports, and use this to work out what happened in the accident.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • examining vehicles and vehicle parts
  • creating plans of the scene and making time and distance studies
  • working out vehicle speed through the amount of crush damage
  • checking tachograph information on vehicles
  • getting technical information from vehicle manufacturers
  • producing reports
  • acting as an expert witness

You might work with 3D visualisation programmes or ‘skid testing’ packages, in a police traffic unit, or on behalf of an insurance company or legal firm.

You may also attend other crime scenes like arson or murder investigations.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 or more (consultant)

If you’re a freelance or consultant investigator you’ll charge an hourly rate, from £60 to over £150.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours may vary depending on your role.

When you’re office based, you’ll work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may need to work extra hours to meet deadlines.

When working at an accident scene, you’ll work the hours that the job demands. This could include working evenings and weekends or on a shift basis. You’ll need to be on-call. 

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into management or work on a freelance or consultancy basis.

Related careers

You may be interested in:

Last updated: 07 December 2016