Crime Scene Investigator Job Overview
Crime scene investigators, also known as CSIs or forensic science technicians, are responsible for collecting and analyzing physical evidence to help in criminal investigations. Most of the evidence they collect is undetectable to the naked eye, including tissue, DNA, fibers and hair. While some of the work is done at the scene of the crime, most is done in a laboratory setting.
Daily tasks for crime scene investigators include:
- Ensuring the security of the crime scene in order to maintain legitimate evidence
- Photographing the crime scene
- Coordinating with law enforcement agencies to maintain a level of cooperation
- Writing detailed reports that document the scene and evidence collected
- Analyzing all evidence collected using various laboratory tools and machines
A CSI with a particular area of expertise such as anthropology, blood pattern analysis or psychology may become a crime scene specialist.
Crime Scene Investigator Job Education Requirements
To enter the job sector as a CSI, candidates need at least a certificate or an associate's degree in crime scene investigation. However, most crime scene investigators possess a bachelor's degree. Several areas of study are acceptable to obtain this position, such as forensic science, criminal justice, general studies, biology or chemistry.
On the job training and certifications are also pivotal to aspiring CSIs. Several certifications are available through different institutions. The International Association for Identification is the organization that gives the most legitimate certification, although other online websites offer programs in the field. Some universities also offer a post graduate certificate in forensic science. Many of those that wish to enter the law enforcement sector use their experience to become a detective or criminal investigator.
Crime Scene Investigator Job Market
Although local, state and federal governments need crime scene investigators, job growth is slow. The job market for crime scene investigators is expected to grow by six percent over the next 10 years, which is half the average for all other occupations. There are currently 12,900 positions nationwide with 700 available in the upcoming years. The reason for such slow growth is greater competition and interest in the job, which became popular in part due to mainstream media and television programs.
Crime Scene Investigator Job Salary Information
The average wage for a CSI is $52,840, or $25.41 an hour. The lowest 10 percent of these positions make an average of $27,800 annually, while the top 10 percent earn an average of $67,565.