The television program, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered in 2000. Because of the show’s popularity people want to work in forensic science jobs. College courses teach the prospective crime scene technician how to be a forensic scientist and analyze and process crime scene evidence as part of a criminal justice degree.

Crime scene in home.

Crime scene.
Credit: Public Domain

Crime scene technician

The difference between a crime scene investigator and criminal forensic scientist is blurry. Different police organizations use different terms for the professions, and sometimes they overlap. In general, CSI personnel do field work to gather evidence from a crime scene while forensic staff analyzes and process’s this evidence in a laboratory.

CSI investigators require good problem solving skills, patience, critical thinking, attention to detail, and excellent writing and speaking skills. These traits are also good qualities for other criminal justice jobs.

It’s advisable to read some books to understand the profession before committing to college courses. Working in the criminal justice system in other capacities also gives a person a good foundation to understand what the work entails and what is required of crime scene investigators.

US Army CID technician.

US Army CID crime scene investigator
Credit: Government public domain

Labor Statistics For Crime Scene Investigator Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites forensic science technicians as growing at about 19% in May of 2011. Entry level employment requires a bachelor’s degree with moderate on the job training. Hourly wages range between $15.75 to $40.86 with a median of $26.76. Annual wages range from $32,760 to $84,980 with a median of $52,180.

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Courses To Become A Crime Scene Technician

Someone looking to be a crime scene investigator should start preparations in high school. Crime scene investigator jobs require people that have training in science courses such as biology, chemistry and physics. Of course, math courses never hurt.

In most cases, an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and applied sciences is a minimum requirement to work as a crime scene technician. A degree in chemistry or biology will get a person in the field. Having such a degree with courses in criminal justice is better.

University courses necessary to work in the criminal justice system will include ones that specialize in forensic biology, toxicology, firearms and tool marks, autopsies, ethics, math and related subjects. Electives should include English, technical writing, speaking, photography, drafting and computer science. Criminal justice schools offer these courses aimed at the student who plans to enter the criminal justice system.

Some people work in law enforcement before they go for a criminal justice degree to become a crime scene investigator. This experience will help guide him to a course and degree plan because they will have a better understanding of which program they wish to pursue.

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US Army CID crime scene team.

US Army CID agents at crime scene.
Credit: Government public domain

Online Schools for Forensic Science Jobs

There are many online schools that offer courses and degrees for crime scene investigation, forensic science, and criminal justice. These courses allow a student to fill in with extra courses to keep their skills up to date, or not required for a degree.

Community Colleges For Criminal Justice Jobs

Some community colleges offer a 2 year associates in criminal justice. If they don’t have such a program, community colleges offer courses helpful in training for a criminal investigator, and provide an introduction to crime scene investigation. These courses include the necessary science courses and additional ones such as English and photography.

Extra Training

There may be situations that require skills that aren’t in the criminal justice school’s curriculum. This would be tasks like disassembling a vehicle to obtain evidence. Some of this can be learned on the job.

Crime scene investigator jobs aren’t for everyone. The criminal investigator profession is glamorous and glitzy on television, but the reality is quite different. Crime scenes are often grim, dirty and sickening. It’s not always a pretty site. If a person has doubts, they might see if they can assist at a trauma center or morgue. The profession has built in stress and one a prospective employee should investigate before committing to. With a degree in the sciences and heavy math, it’s easy to switch careers if a person doesn’t like being in the criminal justice profession.