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Crime Scene Investigator Salary

Indrajit Deshmukh
The median salary of a crime scene investigator at the entry level is around USD 57,850 but the paycheck also depends on the employer, with federal governments paying more than state governments.
The average salary of a crime scene investigator is quite good among law enforcement jobs, and the prospects for growth are also quite great. This job is of enormous responsibility as these professionals are one of the first people to arrive at the scene of a crime.
The job is not as glamorous as made out to be on TV shows like CSI. One thing that the TV shows have managed to achieve is highlighting the meticulous, behind the scenes work done by them to catch criminals.
The real-life agents have to meticulously identify, gather, and document all evidence related to crime, and at times, work at god forsaken hours. Police officers jokingly refer to these professionals as crime tourists, because they arrive at the scene armed with a camera.
They testify in the court of the law, and at times, provide crucial testimonies that help the criminal justice department to prosecute offenders. An important requirement is paying attention to detail and efficiency in documentation.


The pay scale of these professionals ranges between USD 45,916 and US$ 50,433 annually, and related jobs with the law enforcement department are quite an exciting career option. Individuals who are just starting out as CSIs should expect minimum around US$ 29,600 annually.
Like most government jobs, the federal government pays more than the state government to these professionals. The starting salary of those working for most local and state governments is around USD 59,000 annually. Individuals among the top 10% earners brought home more than USD 95,000 per year.


If you want to take up this career, you will at least need a Bachelor's degree in Forensic Science. Those with a Bachelor's degree in Forensic Anthropology or Forensic Biology are also eligible to work as CSIs. Many colleges offer forensic science degrees, and you must have to be a high school graduate or equivalent to be eligible for these programs.
You can specialize in subjects like toxicology, DNA profiling, fingerprint analysis, etc., to further your career in a specific vector of investigation. There are 2 ways for certification for CSIs: one is the International Association for Identification (IAI) and the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC). The IAI has 3 certification  and the ABC has 2.

Job Description

The CSIs are one of the few people who have access to a crime scene, and they are also some of the first people to arrive there. The most important aspect of their job is evidence gathering. One of the first things that they need to do is secure the place and ensure that it does not get contaminated.
Then, they have to meticulously search the area for any evidence that may lead to the perpetrator. They have to collect samples from the place that might play a part in solving the crime. They also have to take photographs of the crime scene as visual documentation of the area is necessary.
They have to document the items that were found at that place and maintain records for the court of law. Dusting the area for fingerprints is also one of the important duties. They also have to do DNA testing, collect and analyze samples of paint, glass, footprints, blood, semen, saliva, bullets, gunshot residue, etc.