What Does it Take to Become a Crime Scene Investigator?
The job of a crime scene investigator is by no means an easy one. You must be physically and mentally tough and prepared to take on even the most difficult of situations. You may have to work long days in which you will be required to concentrate for extended periods of time, and you will need to be physically fit to endure standing and kneeling for hours at a crime scene. Without question, it certainly takes a strong, determined person to enter the field of crime scene investigation.
Duties: The duties of a crime scene investigator include meticulously examining the scene of a crime by means of taking measurements and photographing and collecting evidence that can be used to identify the culprit. Occasionally, a CSI will be called to testify in court as an expert witness. If this happens, he or she will have to prepare a report about the evidence and its meaning and then be able to communicate that to the jury in terms that they will be able to understand.
Schooling and Certifications: Most CSIs have at least a bachelor’s degree in fields such as Forensic Science, Criminal Justice, or Criminology. Often, those in the latter two majors will take courses that emphasize the science of forensics and investigative processes. Once a degree is earned, many people will become police officers and then work their way up to a CSI position; others can become un-sworn officers, most often working with the FBI on cases. As for certifications, there are requirements that one can complete in order to become a Certified Crime Scene Investigator (CCSI) or a Certified Crime Scene Analyst (CCSA) through the International Association for Identification (IAI).
Salary: A CSI generally can make $25,000-$55,000 per year, with the average salary being $50,310. Salaries of close to $100,000 are rare, but not unheard of when having a status such as Criminalist.
Work Conditions: Typically, crime scene investigators will work a regular 8-hour shift but are often called in to work overtime when needed to investigate a scene at any given time, day or night. Work conditions on the job are not for the faint of heart – a CSI will be called to crime scenes involving burglary, homicide, and sexual assault, just to name a few possible situations. After gathering evidence in the field, he or she might then spend a long day in the office examining what was collected. However, all of the hard work, dedication, and long days put into working a crime scene will be well worth it when the evidence collected convicts the suspect, which puts one more criminal behind bars.Return to Careers and Jobs