Crime Scene Investigator — Degree, Career & Average Salary
A crime scene investigator, or a “forensic science technician,” is a person employed to collect, identify, classify and analyze physical evidence related to the criminal investigation at hand. This work pertains to both the crime scene investigators who work in the field and those who work in the crime laboratory. This job is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States today, but it also is very demanding.
The crime scene investigator may work odd hours, yet must be in top form 24-hours per day. Some investigations may lead to dealing with bio-hazardous waste and decontamination. Additionally, the news media often concentrates on the crime scene investigator to generate stories. Therefore, crime scene investigators must dress as a professional representative for an agency. While burnout is common, the successful in crime scene investigator often reaps much praise from the media and law enforcement.
The mean hourly wage for a crime scene investigator in 2004 was $24.19 and the mean annual wage was $50,310 (annual wages at the 10 percentile were $29,170 and the 90 percentile were $76,440). The higher your degree in this field, the higher the wages earned in most cases. Some positions require you have a 4 year degree in science while others only require a GED or High School graduation.
All agencies will conduct a comprehensive background investigation on individuals who are selected to work as crime scene investigators. Perfect backgrounds are rare – but, if you have had bad credit, speeding tickets or arrests, be prepared for questions. Some agencies also conduct polygraph, or lie-detector, tests. One good way to learn more about what different agencies expect is to conduct research on this position through reading books on this topic, to discuss your interests in online forums and to find agency Web sites to learn more about their business.