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Crime scene investigators collect forensic evidence, such as fibers, hair, weapons, or tissue samples to determine their importance in investigations. Typically, crime scene investigators are forensic scientists or field analysts who have been specifically trained to preserve and collect evidence. The most applicable education for work as a crime scene investigator is a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, forensic anthropology, or forensic biology. Many schools also offer certificates, as well as two year courses in crime scene investigation. Although a degree in forensic science isn’t required to work as a crime scene investigator, those who get an education in other fields such as criminal justice or general studies may be required to complete additional forensic training. Crime scene investigators spend part of their time at crime scenes gathering evidence and making notes about details of the scene. But much of their time is also spent in the lab examining evidence under a microscope. Some of this lab time is spent alone, analyzing specimens and recording data, and other times they can be found working with other forensic specialists as a team.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a CSI salary varies from one region to another, but is within the range of $38,000-100,000. The factors that attribute to the pay scale are as follows: type of employer (local, state, federal), geographic location, and specializations within the field. A crime scene investigator who works for local government has an annual median salary of $61,230, averaging $29.44 per hour. A crime scene investigator salary in a federal executive branch averages $75,390, with an hourly wage of $36.25. A crime scene investigator pay in a state government averages at $54,940, with an hourly wage of $26.41. A crime scene investigator, when not a private entity, is usually a member of law enforcement. A CSI is most often employed by a local, state or federal law enforcement agency, this means they can work for a town’s sheriff department, a state police department and even the FBI.
Although the stereotype given to forensic science through popular tv dramas suggests that it is directly linked to the human species, not all forensic careers pertain to human to human crimes. There are many fields dedicated directly to animals, such as veterinary forensic medicine and wildlife forensics. To conclude, crime scene investigation is the use of physical evidence at the scene of the crime and the use of deductive and inductive reasoning to gain knowledge of the events surrounding the crime. Therefore they are an integral part of the law enforcement process.
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