Criminalist — Degree, Career & Average Salary

A criminalist’s goal is to examine physical evidence objectively using investigative skills, natural sciences and practical experience. The main objective is to separate important evidence from trivial matter using scientific methods that help to identify, sort and compare the evidence. This job allows a criminalist to prepare evidence that is useful for a trial or for further investigation.

Therefore, the criminalist, also known as a forensic science technician, has the important job of interpreting evidence. Accurate interpretations of evidence and test results may help to identify the circumstances under which a crime was committed and may reinforce or detract from a witness statement. The interpretations often are produced as written reports, but the criminalist may also need to testify in court.

If you want to become a criminalist, you need to require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in physical, biological or forensic sciences. Applicants also must complete at least 24 semester hours of either biology or chemistry and math. Also, because scientific advancements are constant, the criminalist must stay informed about updates in the field with continued education.

Criminalists often work in sheriff or police offices, state and regional agencies, forensic laboratories, medical examiners’ offices, colleges, universities, attorney’s offices and in federal agencies such as the FBI and DEA. Work also can be obtained through various private enterprises, and some work may need to be conducted at crime scenes. Many of the skills required for this job include serology, DNA typing, trace evidence analysis, firearms and tool mark identification and testing, impression evidence evaluation and drug identification.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, experienced criminalists earn annual salaries between $35,000 and $50,000. Salaries of Federal crimanalists usually are higher, and the more education you obtain, the higher your salary possibilities. Also, salaries may vary depending upon location.

Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

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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Purdue University
AS in Criminal Justice
BS in Criminal Justice
MS in Criminal Justice

Purdue University — Purdue 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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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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Saint Leo University
AA in Criminal Justice
BA in Criminal Justice
BACJ in Criminalistics
MS in Criminal Justice
MSCJ in Forensic Science

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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