About ten years ago, crime scene investigation was an obscure career that nobody really knew about. These days, however, it seems everyone wants to be part of this apparently sensational profession, thanks to such shows as CSI. The pay isn't so bad either: about $30,000 - $44,000 annually. So what does it take to be a CSI? Crime scene technicians or forensic science technicians are responsible for looking for, photographing, carefully collecting and analyzing evidence from a crime scene. There are, however, many jobs and areas of specialization that branch out from this; here are some other career options in the same field:
- Trace analyst - If you watch CSI, you may be familiar with the phrase, "Take this evidence to trace." What is trace? Trace analysts are people who are responsible for thoroughly analyzing the material evidence collected to find out such information as what substance it is, where it came from, and what it's made of. Trace analysts must have completed a four-year degree in the sciences (Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, etc). They may also be called upon to give testimony in court.
- Forensic photographer - A forensic photographer takes studied photographs of the crime scene and the evidence found there, and is afterwards responsible for thoroughly analyzing these photographs using specialized computer software. He must have extensive knowledge of relevant computer programs as well as experience in photography.
- DNA analyst - With the further development of DNA analysis equipment and the weight such evidence gives as testimony to court, the DNA technician's job is of special importance as it can definitely make or break a case. A DNA analyst must have acquired a relevant four-year college degree in the sciences.
- Crime scene examiner - A crime scene examiner, also known as a crime scene analyst, does most of his job on the field. He examines the actual scene of the crime, collects relevant evidence, interviews witnesses and suspects, etc. A person who wants to be a crime scene examiner would have to be prepared to get down and dirty; circumstances may call for him to do some digging, get into deep water; anything to acquire evidence and get the job done. This means that a crime scene examiner must be in excellent physical condition.
- Toxicologist - A toxicologist is in charge of examining toxic substances present within a substance. He must have acquired a degree in Chemistry or any other relevant field of study.
- Medical examiner - A medical examiner is in charge of examining the body of the victim (or doing the autopsy) to determine the cause of death, and to recover other material evidence from the body related to the crime. To be a medical examiner, one must have completed higher studies (PhD) in a relevant field of study.
These are just some of the jobs available in the forensic sciences. If you have acquired the relevant degrees and you're intent on pursuing employment at a CSI lab, look for job openings in your area. One website that can help you get started in your search is crime-scene-investigator.net. You can also hunt by state; for example, if you wanted to look for related jobs in Florida, you could use such job search websites as indeed.com where you can narrow down job opportunities to your preferred state.
To get qualified as a forensic science investigator, there are many options: you can obtain a bachelor's degree in a field related to science, such as chemistry, physics, biology or microbiology. Many colleges also offer degrees in forensic science. It's an added advantage to also take courses in criminal justice and criminal investigation, so you can gain knowledge of relevant legal procedures. Schools that you may inquire at include Kaplan University, Utica College and George Washington University. Check out this website for more information: crime-scene-investigator.net. After college, you may consider getting into an internship program to help you gain practical knowledge of this career.
Another option is to take certification courses at a crime scene school. Coursework will include fingerprint processing, photography and forensic pathology.