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.

Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Kaplan University
AS in Criminal Justice
BS in Criminal Justice
MS in Criminal Justice

Kaplan University — Kaplan University is one of the largest accredited online colleges, and it offers a wide range of degree programs in the field of criminal justice. These programs include associates, bachelors, and masters in criminal justice, with possible specialties (depending on degree level) in Computer Crime, Law Enforcement, Corrections, Law, and Global Issues.
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Saint Leo University
AA in Criminal Justice
BA in Criminal Justice
BACJ in Criminalistics
MS in Criminal Justice
MSCJ in Forensic Science
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Saint Leo University — For years, Saint Leo University has helped students across the county obtain Criminal Justice degrees through online programs. These programs cut many of the costs associated with campus programs and have the added benefit of being accessible from any computer. SLU has several degrees available including an Associates, Bachelors, and Masters in Criminal Justice as well as specialized programs for BACJ in Criminalistics and MSCJ in Forensic Science.
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Liberty University
BS in Criminal Justice

Liberty University — Liberty University is an online university that prepares students for success in their careers following graduation. Liberty University offers two programs in the field, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice, and a B.S. In Multidisciplinary Studies - Criminal Justice.
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Walden University
BSCJ in Psychology
BSCJ in Admin
MPA in Criminal Justice
PhD in Criminal Justice
PhD CJ in Human Services
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Walden University — Walden University is one of the largest providers of college education in the country. Walden takes a practical approach to education by developing curriculum that is industry-driven with assignments that engage students in their coursework. WU has several Criminal Justice degrees available, including BSCJ in Psychology or Administration, MPA in Criminal Justice, and PhD in Criminal Justice or Human Services.
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American InterContinental University
BSCJ in Generalist
BSCJ in Law Enforcement
BSCJ in Case Mgmt and Corrections

American InterContinental University — American InterContinental University online is one of the most popular online universities for students interested in a criminal justice career. Degree programs at AIU include an BS in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice (Law Enforcement), and B.S. in Criminal Justice (Case Management and Corrections).
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