What Is the Job Outlook for a Crime Scene Investigator?

As a crime scene investigator (CSI), you would investigate crimes using physical evidence, along with scientific tools and techniques acquired through education and experience. Employment growth is expected to be slow for these professionals from 2012-2022. Read on to learn more about the job outlook and salary for this field. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't keep separate statistics for CSIs; however, some CSI duties fall under the BLS description of a forensic science technician, while others are covered under the job profile for criminal investigators (www.bls.gov). Both of these groups were expected to see slower-than-average employment growth in the decade spanning 2012-2022. The projection for forensic science technicians is 6%, while that for detectives and criminal investigators is 2%.

Forensic evidence is needed for many trials, and courts will need forensic science technicians who can provide this information promptly. The BLS notes that these professionals can expect a lot of competition and that law enforcement budgets will affect the number of job openings across the country. Detectives and criminal investigators will have the best prospects if they have related work experience, but government spending will also have an effect on how many jobs are available.

Salary Information

According to PayScale.com, most CSIs earned between $27,547 and $68,723 as of February 2014. The median income for these professionals was $40,036. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that detectives and criminal investigators earned a median salary of $74,300 as of May 2012.

Job Description

The job of a CSI is often equated with that of a forensic science technician. However, this type of professional collects evidence at a crime scene, while a forensic science technician analyzes evidence in a crime lab. As a CSI, you would conduct the first evaluation of a crime scene. You would preserve, package and document all collected evidence. This might include recording the location of evidence, along with the date and the name of the person who collected it. You may test for blood and other bodily fluids, as well as looking for fingerprints. Other duties might include obtaining tapes from surveillance cameras, transferring evidence to the proper authorities and receiving a receipt for evidence. You could be required to testify in court.

CSIs work crime scenes ranging from murders, robberies and sexual assaults to accidents and catastrophic events. You might find yourself taking photographs of an entire scene, evidence, victims and even onlookers. You may be required to sketch the crime scene and describe it via written notes, including the sounds, smells and weather conditions.

Required Equipment

These professionals use various types of equipment. You probably would wear protective gear to minimize contaminating the scene. You also might need a flashlight, fingerprint kit, tweezers, photographic ruler, collection kit for insects, flares and snow wax. Additionally, you may use video equipment to reconstruct an incident. Other needed materials could include biohazard bags, casting material and containers for evidence. You likely would be responsible for cleaning and sterilizing your equipment between uses and would have to make sure you had sufficient single-use items for collecting biological evidence, such as blood.

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