Crime Scene Investigator Career – Forensic Examiner Salary and Training Info

The position of a crime scene investigator (CSI), or a forensic examiner, is one of the best known careers in forensics. Responsible for evaluating the evidence at the scene of a crime, the CSI secures, packages, and labels physical evidence for evaluation and analysis.

The CSI is also responsible for preparing detailed reports on observations at the scene and activities conducted at the scene for the investigating law enforcement agency involved. He or she later testifies in court about the evidence found and the processing techniques used at the scene.

Typical cases of a crime scene investigator may include homicides, sexual assaults, home invasions, armed robbery, and crimes against property such as burglaries. The majority of work time is spent processing crime scenes, transporting evidence, attending autopsies and briefings, as well as meeting with law enforcement agencies needing assistance.

Other duties are testifying in court, maintaining equipment and supplies, and participating in continuing education.

Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Requirements

Not all agencies require a four year degree to become a crime scene investigator. Some states provide specific educational requirements that focus entirely on the forensic tasks of the job while others mention knowledge of chemistry, anatomy and criminal law that would require an undergraduate education or a significant amount of experience in a related field.

The educational requirements for a CSI are tightly focused on the duties associated with the position. One state that does not specifically require a completed degree program does set a minimum 720 hours of training in crime scene processing includes 80 hours of latent fingerprint processing training and 40 hours each in the areas of photography, death investigations, and interpretation of blood spatter with other courses in forensic pathology and arson investigation.

In addition, a Crime Scene Investigator may be required to demonstrate knowledge of law enforcement investigative methods and criminal prosecution as well as a thorough understanding of the pertinent case law and criminal law of the state as it applies to his or her profession. Skills needed for evidence processing must also include skills in the fields of chemistry, anatomy, and forensics. In many states, the CSI has the power of arrest and permission to carry a weapon as a sworn-in law enforcement officer (LEO).

Forensic Examiner Education and Training

Certification by the International Association for Identification (IAI) and Crime Scene Certification Board is required within 18 months as a forensic examiner. The applicant who has prepared by learning as much as possible about the duties of the job as it relates to the agency he or she hopes to work for will stand out in the interview. Initially, you may be hired as a crime scene technician and progress to the level of crime scene investigator after successfully completing a period of on the job training.

Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Salary

An entry level CSI will earn an average salary of $51,000 to $63,000. Salaries offered will be influenced by law enforcement experience, education and related experience.

Crime Scene Investigator Career Opportunities

As a professional forensic examiner you will have regular work hours but will also have weekends and nights when you are the CSI “on call” and may also be called if processing multiple scenes requires additional help.

Being available when needed and willing to respond quickly when called is a basic requirement for this career position.

Unlike forensic specialties that focus only on latent print analysis or photography, the CSI has some training and experience in all procedures utilized in processing a crime scene.

Upward mobility in your career can be achieved by moving to a crime scene investigator position with a larger law enforcement agency or an agency of the federal government or by qualifying for a supervisory position.

Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

141 comments… add one
  • nasly

    i want to know when you are on the “on call” does in mean they can call you at any hour and does it depend on the type of case im working on to get “on call”?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Yes, you may be called at any hour of day or night. Your qualifications determine whether you get certain cases or not (ie. some CSI personnel can be certified to do latent print lifts, while others can do that and collect blood spatter samples and take pristine crime scene photos. Usually those who possess more skills in the crime scene investigation field get the nice cases, promotions, and salary increases.

  • Dulce Perez

    I want to know if you can graduate as a CSI from a community college or do you have to go to a university?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      For the most part, Community Colleges grant 2-year degrees which equates to an Associate’s degree. In all likelihood, you’ll need to attend a 4-year college or university in order to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. So in both cases you can graduate, however a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science vs. an Associate’s is more marketable.

    • Ryan

      “I want to know” why young people feel entitled to free advice from folks who go to the trouble of posting their expertise?

      You might try a few please and thank you’s in your requests.


  • Tina Steelman

    I am currently attending Faulkner University and will have my associates degree in 4 months and then will begin my bachelors in criminal justice. Is the criminal justice degree the right step towards getting into CSI? What other advice would you suggest as far as how to get straight there? I am in Mobile AL and I am ready to be part of the CSI team and I want to make sure I have everything I need. Thanks

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Besides a Criminal Justice degree, a new wave of Forensic Science programs sprouted. I recommend this degree track for CSIs more than the CJ degree, but both are useful to your cause. As for help in getting straight there, I recommend speaking with some forensic experts in the area you live in / want to work at.

  • Summer

    I am thinking of moving to California. What schools carry degree programs needed to be a CSI? What schools are “good”. A lot of the classes can be obtained through online courses, but would prefer the campus environment.

  • Chris

    I am thinking of becoming a CSI. I want to know if it is better to major in Forensic Science or Criminal Justice to be able to get the job. Also, I live in New York so does that mean CSI’s work for/in the NYPD?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      FS and CJ are different from each other in terms of a degree program. In my opinion, if you would like to be on the CSI of things the Forensic Science program is a good way to go. Yes, most likely you would do CSI duties for the NYPD, but local county Sheriff’s office, State Police, and private organizations may hire in the area, too. If I were you, I would find out more from each agency.

  • Katie

    I am reconsidering my career path and seriously thinking a lot into Crime scene investigation. I want to know if i am making the right decision in doing this. I am extremely passionate about sciences and basically everything that a CSI involves. I need to be able to speak to a CSI to fill the hole in my brain. I have done extensive research and every time i look further, it draws me in more and more. I am 17 and I live in England and am wondering if studying in the US is better for this amazing subject. If anyone knows of any websites I can possible get in contact with any Crime scene investigators, could you please let me know.

  • JoLeen

    Just want to know if I can get hired as a crime scene investigator with a felony distribution of dangerous drugs charge. I did a 3 year deffered sentence and its to the point where i have not gotten into any trouble so its going to be deffered off my record. Just wondering cause I am trying to start online school for it and need to know if its worth my time.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      good question. I know that felonies are highly scrutinized by law enforcement organizations when it comes to hiring, however I would contact the police department or organization handling forensics (sometimes it may be a county, state or private organization) for more info — you can call anonymously if you so prefer. I can’t just give you a definite yes or no, as each jurisdiction handles hiring differently.

      • Stephen Smith

        Would my driving record effect getting a job as a crime scene technician …..? i have 4 suspensions and 1 arrest for it. but they were all do to not paying tickets when i was younger…no points as of this jan 2011…im 22 and will probably apply next year about this time…

        • Radek M. Gadek

          It may play a role. I just don’t know to what extent, if any.

  • Ms. Pink

    I was just wondering if you need a SSN to volunteer at a crime Lab or anything to do with the police?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      In all likelihood, you will need a valid Social Security number in order to volunteer at a crime lab or anything to do with the police.

  • stephh

    Hi im currently looking into pursuing a career in CSI except my major right now is criminal justice. Im a freshmen at a 4 year university so i think i want to minor in criminal justice and i’m not sure if i should major in biology or chemistry. What to you recommend for me to major in? Also once I obtain my BA do i get into Forensic Science or can i then go straight into a CSI program?

  • Biggz

    Hello im 17 years old and i want to be part of the CSI team.I was thinking about applying to John Jay college because that has the best forensic program. Do you think forensic should be my major?

  • Mitch

    Hey my name is Mitch and im 17 and i have some questions what do you have to go through to become a C.S.I? I really want to become a Crime Scene Investigator.

  • Stephen Smith

    I have had a bad driving record from when i was younger…..does this effect me getting a job as a crime scene technician….?I have had 4 suspensions…1 arrest due to driving …all tickets were because i was younger and did not pay them on-time ..they were stupid tickets like tail light ..tinted windows… and they became moving violations… dui…just wanted to know…??? 1 more question is it easier or better to be hired as a cop first…..?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      If you can become a police officer, then it probably would be just as easy to consider the Crime Scene Technician Career. Many departments train current police officers on CSI techniques. Why not become both?

  • Kimberly


    Im interested in studying crimes scene investigation. I have done a lot of research and have found out that the best way to do this is to study forensic science. Because i am a single parent it is harder for me to do the “traditional class room and campus thing” I was wondering do agency take online degrees as serious as campus earned degrees?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think that as long as you go to a reputable school you should be fine. FYI reputable DOES NOT EQUAL “As Seen on TV Commercials.”

  • amanda

    can i be a CSI with just a bachelors in the criminal justice field. i went into this field hoping i would be able too i don’t want to be a police officer

  • amanda

    Is keiser university a reputable school that is the one i am currently attending for my bachelors in criminal justice. I am mainly curious on what job are available to me with and associates. And then if and when i get my bachelors what will be available to me with that.

    • Cindy

      I think reputable would be that it needs to be regionally accredited. Some nationally accredited schools would apply as well. I would do my homework, and ensure that the school I attend is definitely “legitimately” accredited because there are many diploma and degree mills out there.

      • Cindy

        Yes! Keiser, I see, is regionally accredited through the SACS “Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which covers many Southeastern states. It is definitely considered a reputable school. :) Keiser has to live up to high standards in enrollment, learning materials, professor enlisting, and student satisfaction and continuation. I am finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree in Social & Criminal Justice at Ashford University, and am looking for a college to study for my Master’s in Criminology. After seeing your post, I checked into some of the credentials of Keiser, and definitely will compare this to a couple other colleges I would like to attend.

  • Denise Lambert

    About two years ago, I enrolled at St. Petersburg College here in Florida. I was seeking an A. S. degree in Criminal Justice as a crime scene investigator. I learned that a certificate was also available. I decided, with the way the economy was and government agencies cutting back, that getting the certificate would put me at an advantage. One, put me in a position to accept an offer less than what an investigator was receiving a few years ago and Two, allow me to gain experience. I have now switched back to degree seeking to turn my Certificate into an A. S., as I search for an opportunity with an agency. What I really need to know is what should I include in my resume, besides my portfolio examples of fingerprinting lifting techniques, photography examples, and chemical processing in search for fluids, etc., when I have no actual JOB EXPERIENCE? Should I just fill out an application and take my portfolio in during the interview presenting my understanding and capabilities?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think that you said it best. Without on-the-job experience I would still apply BUT prepare a great presentation with a pristine portfolio.

  • Natalie Brouwer

    My name is Natalie. My High School Senior is interested in Forensics and Photography. Is there a position in which she could be a scene photographer and maybe not a collector? Does having a background in Photography lead her to a specific position within the forensics field? As we fill out College applications, can you recommend what types of specialized courses she should take that would put her in the front of the field after graduation? Thanks.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I’ll say it upfront, I’m not an expert on Forensic Science and Forensic Photography, but I do know that there are systems for collecting evidence. Some techs may be responsible for photography only at one agency, while others may be shooting the crime scene and do the “bagging & tagging” at another. So, I can’t give you a clear answer on that one. I hope that someone with more expertise can weigh in.

  • Abigail

    I’m currently a junior in high school,I’m wondering is there anything specific you would recommended i take in high school.
    And What is the job itself like i have always had the biggest fascination with Crime Scene Examiner but idk if i would be right for it i hope i would and what i have taken in school i find very intriguing.
    And about making a portfolio what all should be in there if i did take one for a job interview.

  • Raven

    With a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Chemistry, can I be a Forensic Toxicologist or anything in the Forensic field?

  • Kerri

    A cop friend of mine told me that CSI jobs typically are given to long-term police officers first as a promotion. What do you know about this? And would that make my chances much slimmer?

  • Nina

    Hi, I’m in high school and i was planing on becoming a CSI later on, so i was wondering if i could interview any of you guys? Or whoever is a CSI. Its for a project I’m doing!

  • Tara

    I’m interested in which universities that have good quality programs that major in Forensic Science/Criminal Justice for CSI’s… I know that I want to be a CSI but am not sure what universities I have to chose from. I’m not aiming to high but then again, not too low either.

  • georgin

    do i have to specialize in forensics to be a detective

  • Angie De Leon

    Hi, I’m a sophomore in high school and I was researching different types of jobs in criminal justice and Forensic Science caught my interest. I’m a little confused on the difference of CSI and Forensic Science and what it takes to get there. It doesn’t matter how long it takes but i’m wondering whats the highest degree you can receive for this profession? Also i live in California, so what best UC schools will offer this?

  • Ryan


    I am currently a sophomore majoring in Resource Economics at UMass. My main goal is to hopefully one day become an FBI Special agent, but I know how competitive it is. If all doesn’t work out, in your opinion would I still be able to become a crime scene investigator with my specific degree? Thanks.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Ryan,

      I think the education accomplishment will not be the biggest obstacle when looking for work in the investigative field, but rather the inter-office politics and that most detectives / investigators will have to pay their dues as an uniformed police officer first (except for some State investigative agencies, where a Bachelor’s will be definitely required).

      As for the FBI question, please check out the FBI Special Agent article and read the comments — there are some great nuggets there.

  • Jose

    I am already in college but i wanted to finally declare my major and i was thinking Criminal Justice. Would a degree in this help me become a Crime Scene Investigator because that is my ultimate goal. And if that doesn’t work out how about a US deputy Marshall, would that be possible with a Criminal Justice Degree.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Both degrees can help in both fields. Also consider Forensic Science for the CSI career and other disciplines like Business, Accounting, or foreign language(s) for the US Deputy Marshal career.

  • Molly


    I just finished my junior year at Fairleigh Dickinson University in NJ. I am a criminal justice major and I am minoring in biology/chemistry. My career goal is forensic scientist/CSI. Many of my friends/ family have told me that I should have majored in biology/chemistry and minored in criminal justice. It is a little too late now, will I still be able to get a good job as a forensic scientist/CSI if I continue on the path i am on now?

  • Angela Miller

    Hello, my question is, would it be better to get the degrees needed in class or could I do it online? And if I did it online, would I need hands-on learning at any point during the programs? Thank you.

  • José

    I got a question I’m about to get my bachelors degree on criminal justice can I jump to the csi field after I finish my bachelor degree or what do i need to do to get in the csi field after my criminal justice career?

  • Faye

    I am close to entering high school, and my teachers were advising me to think about my career and the college I would like to attend. I was wondering if I could major in Forensic Science and minor in Criminal Justice. If so, are there any colleges I could attend to achieve this? I would also like to know if I could get an Associate’s degree first and then go on to get a Bachelor’s degree at the same college. Are there any colleges where I could achieve both of these? I would also like to know if you must be chosen to become a Crime Scene Investigator or if you could apply to become one.

  • jasmine

    Hi i graduated in March 2011 with a degree online in criminal justice with a specialty in crime scene investigation. i cannot find any employment because of the economy. is there any other jobs i can apply for with this degree and im about to start my second semester in a bachelors program for law enforcement. any suggestions to employment.

  • Jazzari Taylor

    I attend the university of California riverside majoring in anthropology and I was wondering can I go into a forensic position or CSI with that degree? I’m almost done w/ school… And are there certain classes, grad school, program, jobs or volunteer work to get me prepared or qualified? Thanks =]

  • Matthew

    Do you carry a gun?

  • Tamara

    Hello, I have one question. I am seeking my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Science. What are my options pertaining to a job with this degree? Thank you and look forward to hearing from you.

  • Annie

    Hi was just wondering if you could help me out. I’ve been looking around, and I wanted to know where the best College’s would be if I wanted to be a CSI? I’m just entering High School, and I’ve been dying to go to College. I like to make my dreams come true. I love to be a CSI cause it inspires me so much. Also I would love to help people out. I would be really gratified if you help me.

  • Derek

    Hello, I’m currently in community college and I would transfer to 4-year university next fall 2012. Is it possible to become a crime investigator with criminal justice degree or do I need science degree? Do I need to become a police officer in order to become one?

  • Andi Garcia

    I have read this blog and the comments that were written to others, and I am really considering this career. However, I will be earning my Associates Degree in Criminal Justice in about a year, how will i go about getting my Degree in Forensics? What are your suggestions?

  • Cassandra

    well… I’m double majoring in Criminal Justice and Biology and the university I’m going to offers Forensic Science as a Graduate Certificate program, would that work to secure the job or do I have to go to another college for grad school?

  • Mitra

    I want to be a homicide investigator and i want to know did u get sick at looking at all the blood and have bad dream about the scene u seen

  • Dave H.

    I am passionate about CSI and would like to pursue a career with it. I live in Ohio and have 2 DUI convictions that are 3 and more yrs old. Am i wasting my time in going thru with this? i know its all jurisdictional, but would appreciate more info into finding out/who to contact for such a case. (no felony convictions)

  • frances ruiz

    I have just started my journey down the road to digital forensics and security. My program is more based on the computer technology and the digital forensics than anything else. What career goals should I look forward in obtaining in the future as I finish my degree? I am getting my associates in computer forensics and security, would I be able to get a job when I am done with my associates degree, or should I continue my studies throughout digital forensics and security as a bachelors? Becoming a computer forensics investigator is my main goal…where can I start as I want to start in entry level. I spoke to a nypd recruiter and they just said it field and that was no help.

  • Priscilla

    Hi there, I wanted to get your opinion & suggestion regarding criminology & forensic science studies, what are the major differences? I have been doing some research on what different Enforcement departments across the nation look for & require for the position & often have been seeing that most require either or but some require a combination of both-
    I am aiming towards crime scene analyst & when looking into schools both programs are offered separately.
    I guess my confusion is with which program is my best bet to go with?

    BTW appreciate very very much all the articles and responses
    you give – It is great to get some realistic inside info
    For some of us it not only provides updated info but gives us the opportunity to make immense life changing decisions
    Thank You

  • JT

    I have always been interested in Forensic Science but was scared away by the science in school. Science wasn’t my strongest subject to grasp. I know have a BA in an unrelated field but I’m going back to school for Forensics.

    My career interest is in the latent technologies, investigative, problem solving. My question is should I go into a 4 year program for Criminal Justice or Forensic Science? With have a degree, although unrelated, would I be able to find entry jobs in the field with an Associates degree in Latent Technologies?

    I just want to make the best education move that would give me a better career opportunity in the investigative areas of the criminal justice field.

  • Brandi

    I am currently in my first term of college in criminal justice to become a crime scene investigator at everest online. I have learned many things like all the different types of blood splatter learning all this has made me even more interested in this career. my question is when i get my degree and if i move to another state will my degree work in all states or will i have to go to school some more?

  • Molly Sheehan

    Could you go to a online school to be csi, and then do the hands on?

  • Loula

    I am 34 and finishing up my criminal justice degree with a minor in Forensics. I just started this career path about 3 years ago. My question is, I know I am pushing towards the cut-off age for law enforcement and entering a lab at almost 40 is intimidating, so do you think I should change the minor of my degree and just focus on the administrative side of the criminal justice profession? I may sound a little insecure about my career path but this is the results of me starting out late in figuring out what I really want to do with my career. HELP!!!

  • Ashley

    I’m just wondering…

    What are all of the possible positions you can get to become a CSi agent?
    I know there is a forensic scientist, Fingerprint Latent Examiner, and a Crime Scene Analyst. But I know there are several more. It would be helpful so I can narrow my choice down. Thanks have a good day.

  • mickey

    My daughter is 14, she is dead set on becoming a forensic specialist. She has a great advantage to complete her Associates at the same time she graduates high school. This is one of the plus to home school. What advice can u give for her on how and what classes to get started on? She will be enrolled into a jc in two years. I want to help her get started correctly. Including extra hrs. of volunteer time. Your advice will be greatly appreciated thank you.

  • PJR

    I’m a 31year old male, living in the state of California, and interested in becoming a criminal analyst. I have a few things that may go against me becoming one. I have 3 misdemeanor DUI’s, last one was in 2006, I have been clean & sober for 3years&4months. Also had my Right&Left hips replaced, the surgeries went great, I can walk & still operate, I just cant run full sprint like before. Seeking some feedback and would like a candid answer, is there any chance of me getting a shot at this career?

  • Miss V

    Can you get a job in the CSI field with a Domestic Violence judgement?

  • Nina M. Williams

    I am wondering if a person that has a non-violent or dwi or even non-drug related felony conviction, still become a forensic scientist or CSI even though they can’t carry a weapon? I am almost ready to graduate from college and would like to know if I really need to change my degree or major? Please help?

  • barbara Godding

    I am studying to become a CSI through Everest College. to answer the question sometimes they do carry weapons

  • lashae

    hello, i want to become a homicide detective. i already know that i have to be a PO first. when i get to college i`m going to take up criminal justice. i also want a double major or minor but do i take up a degree in forensic science if i want to become a forensic examiner ?

  • Samantha

    I watch a lot of shows that deal with CSI. However I’m about to get out of high school and have really no idea if CSI is something I want to go into. I have 1 year left and i need to know what high school courses i should be taking to look better for a college that deals with CSI. Any available information anyone has would be much appreciated.

  • Priscilla Escalante

    I just graduated with a BA in Justice Administration and am wanting to get a MS in Forensic Science to become a forensic examiner. Is this possible since I have a BA and not a BS?

  • brandy jackson

    Hello my name is brandy jackson and I am currently a high school senior. I am doing a career project and my career choice is to become a Crime Scene Investigator. I have to ask interview questions about this field and i am hoping you guys can answer them in time. long have you been in the criminal justice field? #2.what kind of skills does a person have to have to be in the criminal field? #3.what made you want to go into criminal justice field? #4. Does the job affect you in any way? If so which way? #5.what are the down sides of being in the field? #6. if you had any advice for me what would it be for college? PLEASE AND THANK YOU! HOPEFULLY YOU CAN GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

  • csolano

    Hello I’m interested in majoring in the field of Criminal Justice and I browsed for jobs within it because I wasn’t sure which jobs go with it. But then I found this job as Criminal Scene Investigator. Even though its under the Criminal Justice major it also said that I would need knowledge in chemistry, anatomy and criminal law. I am confused because I’m not sure if it means that i would need to major in those three fields or I would need to Major in Criminal Justice while taking classes that relate to chemistry, anatomy and criminal law.

  • Verna Branch

    Hi I Am 14 and have been looking into the career path of a Forensic Examiner for about 3 years and when i enter High School in August i will be in a program that teaches you the basics of anything having to do with Law, Justice, and Education and I was wondering if the extra 4 years in the high school criminology program would help at all??

  • HAEL

    I’m confused. Will an online degree really get you anything? I think practical skills are pretty important. I’m pursing my bachelors in Sociology (with a focus in criminology on my transcript) and a minor in Forensics. I do not expect to be hired with this at all! This is very little work if you think about it. I’m going to do my Masters at the forensic institute, which is part of the university. It’s two years of hands on training and with THAT I expect to be hired.

  • Jessica

    I am going to school for criminal justice and forensics. What I would like to be able to do is work in a position relating to the field while I am in school. How should I begin that process and where should I look?

  • AnaHale

    I was wondering….. Do Forensic Photographers carry a gun, on the crime scene, and/or everywhere?

  • Abbie

    Hi, im only 13 but Im almost dead set on wanting to do forensics, particularly csi work. I was wondering if there is anything in high school or any specific courses i should take to best prepare myself for this career. Also, do you think a few specific colleges have a particularly outstanding forensic science program?

  • Winifred

    Okay, so I’m applying to colleges. Would it be better for me to pursue a major in Criminology or Criminal Justice to be a Forensic Examiner?

  • Shaliyah

    I was wondering do you need both an Associate Degree and a Bachelors degree to become a crime scene investigator

    • Radek Gadek

      Let’s just say that if you’re doing a Bachelor’s, an Associate’s degree would THEORETICALLY be accomplished midway. You’ll not have an Associate’s diploma saying that you did complete the degree track unless you went ONLY for the Associate’s degree.

      FYI: Most Associate’s degrees take about 2 years and most Bachelor’s degrees take about 4 years. In most cases, Bachelor’s degrees are preferred over an Associate’s, but there are plenty of exceptions.

  • Jacqueline

    I’m currently at a cross roads. I know I want to eventually work for the FBI as a Forensic Scientist; all the FBI websites say that they accept Biology, Chemistry and Physics majors for a FS position. I am a junior with a Biology major at the University at Buffalo however I was recently accepted to CUNY John Jay and would be a Forensic Science major; what looks better when applying for a job to the FBI?

  • Samantha

    Hi my name is Samantha and I just graduated high school. I had a plan to take a certification program at UC Riverside but can I get some kind of job after I complete the program with the Forensic Lab? Or should I not waste my time with it and just go straight into getting a degree?

  • Brooke

    I have my Associates degree in social science and I will soon get my B.S. in Criminal Justice. I was thinking about becoming a Parole Officer for a few years while going to school part time to get my Masters. However, I’m not sure what I need to get it in. I was wondering if you know anything about becoming a Forensic Medical Examiner? Because that is my dream job, and I know I will need my M.D. but I need to know where to start. And now I’m questioning becoming an FME. I really enjoy Forensic Anthropology but I don’t know where to begin. Any advice would be much appreciated!

  • Hannah


    I am a student at a 4 year college, getting a degree in criminal justice and a minor in forensic psychology. (concentration in forensic science). What would be the best way become a crime scene investigator?

  • Brittany Stoten

    I’m a Junior in high school and I go to a CTE school. I’ve been taking classes in the medical field for two years. I was considering nursing and would like to keep it as an option, although my main goal at this point is a crime scene technician. I’m going to Montana State University to get my BSN and was wondering where to go after that. Do I need to get a bachelors in another field besides nursing after that? I also plan on taking an online class to get a BSCJ in Crime Scene Investigation. Is this the right way to go about this, or am I missing any critical steps? (I am getting my BSN no matter what, and Montana State University doesn’t offer any forensic science or criminal justice.) If you can help me with this, it would be much appreciated.
    Please, and thank you.

  • Maria

    my name is Maria and i’m going to be a senior at high school. i’m going to take forensics. I wanna go to community college but i’m not sure because they only have criminal justice. Do i really have to go to 4-year college directly??

    • Radek Gadek

      If Forensic Science is not available at your local community college then you might need to consider a four-year school. Some four year schools offer Associate’s degrees in FS. Something to think about.

  • Stephanie

    I’m starting a major in criminal justice at a college but I want to go into the CSI field… Am I in the right path or should I change my major to something more specific?

  • Andre

    Hello. I am entering my first year in college. My major is forensic science because i am interested in a career in CSI. I wanted to know if i could possibly become a policeman as well as a CSI

  • Yesenia

    I just want to know is it mandatory to be on call or can it be optional?

  • Esmeralda M.

    What do you think about going to a place like Heald College (a vocational school) Vs. a 4 year college?

  • chaunte

    I got out of the army 3 years ago for our kids and recently graduated with an online associates degree in business management. I didn’t like it as much as I thought I want go start school for my BA but I’m thinking of CSI will my associates in bm help at all? I’m even thinking of going to Troy university or Northwest Florida state college. Any advice?

  • Hannah

    Hi, i hope someone can answer my question! I am currently getting my associates of Criminal Justice from a 2 year community college. I am taking 3 or 4 forensic science classes, but i dont know what to do after. I want to be a CSI, so would i need to go on to another university and go another 2 years to get my bachelors? And what would i need my bachelors in…FS or CJ?

  • Nolan Coolidge

    hey I”m in community college and really want a CSI degree and i want to know what are the best majors to get into? what can a masters degree produce for me in terms of salary? What department is better to do large city or small?

    Confused student

  • Sara

    Currently I attend a two year school and I am looking to graduate in the two years and start my career. Can’t I work my way up into the field or do I have to push forward in higher education. I am on schedule for an associates in criminal investigations/forensic science.

  • Keshia

    I first just want to say thank you to Radek Gadek for posting all of this information for inquisitive minds. I am currently in school for a CJ major and a minor in Forensic Science. I want to become a CSI and have been reading the questions posted as well as the replies. I do have one question….would it be more beneficial to start an apprenticeship with the CSI’s office while I attend school or just wait to start on the job training? Thank you for your time

    • Radek Gadek

      Great question, Keshia. I think it would be great if you can get your foot in the door earlier. It not only can help with career prospects down the line, but it can align your studies to what you really like about what you’ve seen while an intern/apprentice. And, with the current economical whirlwind, I think starting while in school can give you somewhat of an edge. Thanks for reading the articles and the comments. Good luck.

  • M. Kaplan

    I am a high school teacher teaching forensics (this is only my 2nd year teaching it.) One of my students asked: “How many people might work on an average crime scene?” Can you help me answer this? Also, in the future, I would like to write to ask further info, if its okay?
    Thank you so much!
    M. Kaplan

  • Yu

    I am a junior in Forensic Criminal Investigation but not completely based in science; it is more toward a field related career, with a minor in Criminal Justice. I want to know if I need to become a sworn officer before being able to work as a CSI investigator. Or what are other options for me at this moment?

  • Frankie

    I am currently trying to pick a college that will help me double major in psychology and forensic science but the two colleges I want to go to most do not have FS majors. I am wondering if there is anything else I can take and major in to become a CSI. I really appreciate your help, I am having a lot of trouble finding answers.

  • Michael

    I have worked as a correctional officer in a jail and prison settings I am now attending college and obtaining my degree in criminal justice. I now have some physical disabilities which prevent me from working as a police officer. I am wondering what the physical requirements are for a Crime Scene Tech and if i am wasting my time getting a degree in CJ???

  • Mara

    I normally don’t “like” or comment on things, but I just want to say thank you. This was very helpful! I’ve always been interested in Forensics, but never thought about pursuing it as a career. I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out something I feel comfortable committing too. I read a related answer to someone’s post and was leaning away from moving forward. I just saw CSI: Miami and had to look into things further to satisfy my mind. I’m glad because I came across this. :) Again, thank you!

  • Leah


    I have a BS in Crime Scene Investigation but I have no on the job experience. I’m learning very quickly that many places will not even interview you without at least 1-3 years experience. What else do I need to do so I can at least get the interview? I’m stuck as an office administrator which is NOT what I went to school for!!!!


    • Shantae

      Leah I think I am going to face the same problem you are facing. I am scheduled to graduate in the spring and I have no experience other than the local police department that was a waste of time. How am I expected to have experience if resume/application is overlooked due to not having experience?

  • Aly

    I’m thinking of pursuing a career as a Computer Forensics Investigator. What Major should I take in University? Ive been told that the best way is the major in both Computer Science and Criminal Justice, but is this correct?

    • Radek Gadek

      I’m not sure that focusing on two majors would be a great idea. If you enjoy computer work, I would consider a Computer Science / Information Technology degree track. There are also degrees that deal directly with digital and computer forensics that I would look into (the name of the degree eludes me at this time).

      Still, if you can do that and minor in Criminal Justice, I think that’s an added bonus.

      FYI: A while back, I wrote an article about how Criminal Justice is not the only degree needed to obtain work in the CJ system.

  • Joel

    Can a CSI member work with FBI instead of Local Police stations?

    • Radek Gadek

      If you’re a “CSI member,” you’re probably working for the agency that hired you. So if it’s local PD that hired you, then that’s who you work for. If it’s the FBI, you work for the FBI.

      Many FBI cases are worked along with local police departments. So, it’s entirely possible that, if you worked for the FBI, you would be helping local PDs. It usually doesn’t work the same way if you worked for the local PD.

  • Yessey

    I’m attending a community college now and I’m majoring in CJ. I want to know if i could become a CSI with only my AA or would i have to get my BA? I also want to know what you’d recommend for college major and internships. If there’s any easier way perhaps? please give me your feedback! id greatly appreciate it

  • Jai

    Hello my name is Jai I’m 24 years old. I currently live in Los Angeles, California, and looking to move to Arizona in a year. I currently attend ICDC College I am taken there Crime Scene Investigator class and will be done in May 2013. Its not a degree, it’s a certificate program. I want to know will I be able to get a job in the CSI field with the certificate. I have no experience in the CSI field yet. Can you help me out. thank you

  • Kathy

    If you could please tell me, I am 52 years old with nothing but a high-school diploma, and have always dreamed of being a CSI. Do you think I’d have a shot at getting in and out of school and getting a job in the field within a few years? Or do you feel it’s too late? Thanks.

  • Simms

    Is there an age requirement or limit? I am 46 and looking to getting my Masters degree in this.

  • sundus

    hi..iam a senior and was thinking of studying biology in the university ..will a bio degree help me in working in csi ,,and if not ,then what should i study? thx

  • Marissa

    I am going to be attending college in the fall, and I know I would like to pursue criminal psychology, but it seems like this is more of an office career. Which path would be right so that I may still go with psychology, but work in the field?

  • nina

    At what age can you work for the CSI?

  • Lerato

    I would like to know which obstacles will I be facing when getting into this career?

  • Jose

    I first just want to say thank you to Radek Gadek for posting all of this information for inquisitive minds. I want to become a CSI and have been reading the questions posted as well as the replies. I think the best way is start like an apprenticeship but what i need exactly to do this, when can i start working as an apprenticeship?

  • Darlene

    I have a certificate in criminal justice and a Bachelors in management/Organizational development, need to see what field I can get into to start off with or do I need to continue my education with a Bachelors in criminal justice. I am really looking forward to starting a new career.

  • Chelsea S.

    Hi, I was wondering if CSI work directly with a local police department because I need to interview a CSI for my senior project. I dont know who to call or how to contact a CSI! So should I call my local police department or does anyone personally know a CSI who I can interview? I would really appreciate it! Thanks!

  • Britne

    I wonder if I get my masters in Administration of justice, can I qualify in being a CSI?

  • Christina

    Hi, I’m working on a Forensic Chemistry degree at a local university and I was wondering if that was a good choice to take. I’m wanting to become a CSI but I don’t want to just work in a lab, I also would like to work on the field. If you can tell me if majoring in a Forensic Chemistry is a good choice that would be amazing. Thanks

  • Labi

    I wanted to know if its necessary to be a NYPD officer first in order to get hired as CSI?

  • Carol K.

    Hi just read your article and it was very informative and I was just wondering because I will be a soph/junior transferring to FDU majoring in criminal justice and if I would like to be in the CSI field is CJ the best major for me? and what would you recommend for grad major?

  • nicole

    hi i have a prior record of petty larceny and obstruction of justice will this prevent me from getting employment for crime scene investigation degree

  • Nina

    Could you please clarify something….. so I’m in the process of starting at AIU online to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Science of Criminal Justice. I was told that this Degree included Forensic Science, but I noticed on one of your comments to someone’s posts; “FS and CJ are different from each other in terms of a degree program”. I just want to be sure that I’m on the right track, before I start my classes on July 22 ;) (super excited, by the way!!) I know that I definitely want to do detective or forensic crime scene type work… :) I would rather not have to go through being a police officer, but be the one that does the work behind the scenes ” sort’ a speak ” Thanks in advance.


  • Israel G.

    So I am in my second year into a criminology degree but I have now decided to become a CSI. So I am planning to keep going with my degree but also minor in biological sciences since my university doesn’t have forensics. Is this a good choice?

  • Jessica

    Are you eligible for a career in a CSI position if you are a 36 year old female, with an associates degree in applied science (criminal justice), a bachelor’s degree with a major in corrections & juvenile justice, a minor in criminal justice, and a professional certificate in youth services from Eastern Kentucky University? If so, is there a cut off limit and what experience would aid in obtaining a position as a CSI Investigator?

  • lucky

    will i be able to be a crime scene investigator if i dont have physical science as my school subject

  • Yvonne

    I have been going to school part time for criminal Justice and I have a full time job and I am a single mother, I’ve done a lot of research on what it takes to be CSI and an very passionate about it in only 23 years old. Is it still possible to do everything needed for someone in my position?

  • sall

    what is the long term potential in this career? and what is the advancement potential?

  • Nelly

    Hi. Can i take criminal justice or become a csi if i have a bad criminal record. Just some misdemeanors? I made bad choices in the past but really have a passion for criminal justice.

  • K

    The university I attend does not offer a degree or major in Forensic Science, however, I am following the degree path of Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology and a minor in Criminal Justice. I want to purse a career in Crime Scene Investigation but am confused as to if my degree path is correct. Thank you for writing this article, I am a better understanding of a career as a CSI.

  • Tina

    Hello, my daughter is getting ready to graduate in Aug with a 4 yr degree, Major in Criminology and minor in Biological Sciences. What career path could she take with this type of degree? Thanks for any info you can give!

  • Autumn

    I wanna be a crime scene investigator. But I live in Kentucky. A small state, where would I have to go to get a good job as a CSI agent.? Suggestions anyone please..?

  • Morgan

    I’m going to school to be a Crime Scene Investigator but I have some questions. First: do I have to be a police officer first in order to be a CSI? Or can I just go right into it? Second: Do CSI’s carry guns? Third: What are the best courses to take?

  • J S

    I want to become a forensic scientist, but I have a domestic violence arrest. Charges were dropped by the ADA. Would I be able to have a successful career if I was to go to school and major in this field?

  • Curious person

    I find being a CSI very interesting and it sounds like something that I would enjoy. I have heard before that you need to be a police officer first and was wondering if that was required? I have no interest in being a police officer or being the one to chase down/arrest the criminal. I just want to look at and collect evidence to help solve stuff.

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