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Crime Scene Investigator, Forensic

Earnings Potential

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, hourly median earnings of a Forensic Science Technician would be $21.16, which translates to an annual salary of around $42,000.  Experienced scientists may earn up to $85,000, while a lab director can earn upwards of $100,000.

Facts at a glance:

  • If you have a criminal record, you will have a lot of trouble getting into this career for obvious reasons
  • You should be able to deal with possible death scenes and tragic accidents
  • The actors and events in CSI and other shows may not accurately portray real life events
  • You will need at least a bachelor’s degree to get into this field, along with possible internships


Due to an uprising of hit TV shows like Law and Order from NBC, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from CBS, and Evidence from ABC, more and more people are interested in working with forensics and law enforcement.  Although the Crime Scene Investigator profession is becoming more and more popular, opportunity for employment is limited.  Most forensic science technicians work for departments in their local and state governments that deal with law enforcement. They work behind the scenes and are part of a support team.  If you are looking for a career where you can shine and gain popularity, this is not the career for you.  Although forensics is an essential part to criminal cases, it is unheard of for any forensic specialist to become renowned for his or her work.  As scientific technology grows, forensic science technicians must keep up to date and knowledgeable about it.

Details of work

Forensic science technicians investigate crimes and incidents by collecting, analyzing and describing physical evidence taken. They often take evidence in the form of DNA, firearms, body fluids, fiber, glass and other organic and inorganic materials.  Most forensic science technicians work closely with other scientists and doctors to help develop summaries and a better conclusion of the findings. Most work indoor in labs, but may also be required to travel to crime scenes and investigate there.  Days and times of work are hard to determine because they may work evening, night shifts and on-call depending on various factors.  Fluoroscopes and microscopes are the essential tools of a forensic scientist.


Degrees that lead to this career

The obvious route for this career would be to get degrees in applied sciences like Biology and Chemistry.  Science-related technology degrees would be a top choice unless of course you go to a school that offers specifically Forensic Science.  Due to demand, many colleges now offer degrees in Forensic Science or science degrees with an emphasis on criminology. Although it may not be required, additional training would be suggested for this field.

Career Opportunities

Although jobs are limited, the expected growth rate for forensic science technicians is higher than average due to increasing demand and technology. Some career titles are: medical examiner, crime laboratory analyst, forensic engineer, and crime scene examiner.