A professional in Crime Scene Investigation examines crime scenes and analyzes what might have occurred, also documenting any evidence. These professionals usually must have an undergraduate degree in forensic science with related work experience.
Commonly known as crime scene investigation (CSI) or forensic science technicians, CSI professionals analyze crime scenes and process evidence. Some duties may include taking pictures of evidence, recording information about the crime scene location and preserving evidence that they find. Employers typically prefer CSI professionals who have completed a bachelor's degree related to forensic science and have obtained some hands-on training during the program. Prior work experience also can be helpful in securing a job.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree related to forensic science|
|Other Requirements||Hands-on training and experience|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||27% for all forensic science technicians|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$60,090 annually for all forensic science technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salary and Employment Outlook for CSI Professionals
Forensic science technicians earned a mean annual salary of $60,090 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. The highest average salary was reported for forensic science technicians working with the executive branch of the federal government, followed by those employed by management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
According to May 2015 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, forensic science technicians held approximately 13,070 U.S. jobs, most of which were with local or state governmental agencies (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted a 27% jump in forensic science technician positions between 2014 and 2024, since forensic science techniques were expected to be used more frequently in the investigation and prevention of crimes. It was anticipated that those who had completed an education program or have work experience would find the best job opportunities.
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Education Options for Aspiring CSI Professionals
According to the BLS, employers generally prefer CSI job candidates who hold a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field. Students can begin preparing for this career in high school by taking numerous courses in science and math. They also might benefit from classes in chemistry and physics.
On the postsecondary level, prospective CSI professionals might choose to earn a 2-year associate's degree at a technical school or community college and then transfer to a bachelor's program, which usually can be completed in an additional two years. Students also might choose to enroll in a 4-year bachelor's program straight out of high school. Either way, they should choose a program that offers extensive opportunities for hands-on training, which typically is valued by employers. Aspiring crime scene investigators also might opt to specialize in an area like weapons inspection or DNA testing.
In addition to having a formal education, an aspiring CSI professional should possess strong communication skills, be able to work well with others and have expertise in computers. He or she also should be highly organized and demonstrate attention to detail.
To become a crime scene investigator, an associate or bachelor's degree in forensics must be obtained, and prior relevant experience is preferred. Along with specialized knowledge and technical training, analytical and communication skills must also be possessed. The job outlook for this specialized profession is most favorable, expecting to rise 27% from 2014-2024.