Crime scene investigators deal both with investigations and the science behind law enforcement. The job requires a keen eye for detail and interest in laboratory work. Their work includes gathering evidence, examining evidence in the laboratory, using equipment to collect and analyze evidence, and preparing official court documents as well as case reports for official filing.
Duties of Crime scene investigators depend largely on the agency they work in, experience, education and skill levels. CSIs may be responsible for securing the crime scene by providing areas for investigators to work in and areas for spectators away from the crime scene. They work and cooperate with both the victims and witnesses; assess the scene and reconstruct events that led to the crime; take measurements of crime scenes accurately; provide expert testimonials in court hearings; lead and inform other investigators involved in the case; train new CSIs; process images and maintain photographic equipment, among others.
Education and Training Requirements
Different law enforcement agencies require varying educational requirements for a job as a Crime Scene Investigator. Some agencies accept candidates with just a high school diploma, while others prefer to hire those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or a similar field. There are a number of colleges and universities that provides Crime Scene Investigation degrees and certificate programs. For CSIs that work as law enforcement officers, completion of basic peace officer training should be completed and taken annually to maintain certification.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
CSIs must possess excellent interpersonal and strong written and verbal communication skills. One must be detail-oriented, meticulous, observant, honest, ethical and objective. They must be prepared to deal with highly unpleasant or disturbing situations. The job also requires them to qualify with firearms and conform to the department’s physical fitness and defensive tactics standards.
Crime scene investigators usually work in their offices from Monday to Friday normally between 8 to 5. This position occasionally requires physical labor, so CSIs must have endurance and be physically fit.
Salaries of CSIs vary largely depending on factors such as experience, education, position, employer, size of company or agency and geographic location. Civilian employees typically earn less compared to law enforcement officers. The annual salary of CSIs is between $27,300 and $72,500 for most sheriff and patrol officers. Most crime scene investigators receive supplementary compensation after completing specialized duties in particular cases. Many CSIs also earn additional pay for working late-night shifts, on the weekends or during holidays.