Crime Scene Investigator
How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator
A crime scene investigator, or a CSI, is called in shortly after a crime occurs. They photograph, diagram, and document the crime scene and collect and preserve evidence. The CSI is then required to turn over the evidence to a crime laboratory, where it is analyzed by forensic scientists to hopefully determine the nature and cause of the crime. A CSI is responsible for many things, including:
- Documentation of the crime scene, including photos
- Collection of fingerprints, footwear impressions, hair & fibers, biological fluid, and other physical evidence
- Conducting blood spatter pattern analysis, and discovering DNA
- Following protocol and properly packaging and securing any and all evidence collected from the crime scene
- Assisting the pathologist with collection of physical evidence from the body at autopsies
- Taking thorough notes, which will be used toward completing a comprehensive written report
- Giving an accurate and complete testimony in a court
Often CSI specialists are detectives or government agents, who have been promoted from local police officer positions. Training in crime scene techniques helps qualify you for advancement in this field.
Crime Scene Investigator Education Requirements
Becoming involved in law enforcement is the best way to advance your career as a crime scene investigator. Most police departments are looking for investigators with a policing background, although some do hire civilian CSIs. To qualify for a crime scene investigator position, police departments require at least an associate’s degree if not a bachelor’s degree. Popular College Majors for CSI’s include:
- Criminal Justice
- Crime Scene Investigation
In general, the more college education and experience you have in law enforcement, the more appealing you are to hiring police departments. Requirements to become a CSI are specific to the agency, so make sure you contact the hiring employer to see what their requirements are.
Job Opportunities for Crime Scene Investigators
In 2008, median annual wages for crime scene investigators were $60,910, whereas the middle 50 percent earned between $45,930 and $81,490. The highest salaries reported were more than $97,870. The geographical location of the job, education, and level of training and experience all help determine salaries.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition