According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the fastest growing criminal justice careers is crime scene investigator—yes, the job highlighted in the popular television show CSI—and an online criminal justice degree can get you started in this exciting field.
What do crime scene investigators do?
Also called forensic science technicians, crime scene technicians, or crime scene analysts, crime scene investigators handle the technical aspects of crime investigation by collecting, testing, identifying, classifying, documenting, and analyzing physical evidence, including weapons, fibers, hair, and bodily fluids. Along with photographing potential evidence, crime scene investigators also write reports and may testify in court about their findings.
If you are interested in a particular aspect of crime scene investigation, after gaining experience, you may be assigned to a department that deals exclusively with ballistics, handwriting, or DNA analysis.
How do I become a crime scene investigator?
Crime scene investigators are usually required to have certificates, associate degrees, or bachelor degrees as well as practical training. Many crime scene investigators start out as forensic technicians, but keep in mind that you can earn an online degree or certificate while working full-time and speed up your climb of the career ladder.
Although knowledge of the law and law enforcement may be helpful, you usually do not have to be a police officer to become a crime scene investigator.
What should I study to become a crime scene investigator?
While an online criminal justice degree can give you a head start as a crime scene investigator, you should also have knowledge of forensic science, chemistry, computers, evidence collection, fingerprinting, logic, mathematics, and photography; if these courses are not included in your criminal justice program, you should consider taking some of them as electives to make yourself a more attractive job candidate.
What are the salary and job outlook for crime scene investigators?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports than in 2007, the middle 50 percent of forensic science technicians earned between $36,560 and $61,210; “much faster than average” growth is expected in the career over the next decade.