Thanks to one of the highest-rated crime series that millions of people watch every night on TV, CSI became a glorified job. The young generation is very interested in joining the exclusive circle of crime scene investigators, looking for ways to reach their sought-after goal.
Contrary to popular belief, not all CSIs are police officers, what’s more, many of them come from varied backgrounds such as science or criminology, to name just a few. If you are one of those, who want to be in charge of crime scenes for a living, here is what you should major in to be a CSI, as well as plenty of other details on the topic.
What Exactly Does a CSI Do?
Short for a crime scene investigator, this acronym covers a pretty wide spectrum of areas as many CSIs also work in laboratories as forensic science technicians that, in their turn, can be specialists in an array of various fields including chemistry, biology, or ballistics.
Generally speaking, CSIs are intended to secure a crime scene and then collect and analyze criminal evidence, from fingerprints and tool marks to biological samples and traces of chemicals. They also often take photographs and sketches of the crime scene and speak to witnesses. In short, they have to do their best in order to process and preserve evidence, which they will later share with respective agencies in the form of written documentation and reports.
They are also invited to testify at criminal trials to help throw light on certain circumstances or specific details that are crucial to establishing the facts and finding out the truth. CSIs are hired by a broad range of organizations, including government agencies, police departments, coroner’s offices, and crime laboratories.
What Are Education Requirements To Become a CSI?
If you are a detail-oriented person with well-developed problem-solving skills and a strong ability to remain focused on your duties regardless of the environment, then a CSI job may be your perfect fit. So, what are the career and education requirements to make your dream come true?
Quite naturally, the first and foremost thing you need to become a professional CSI is an undergraduate degree. While a high school diploma or equivalent might be a minimum requirement for some positions, the majority of police departments and law enforcement agencies are looking for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, natural science, or computer science. Needless to say, your chances to grab a more attractive and better-paid job are much higher with your BS than with a two-year associate’s degree.
Alternatively, candidates with a degree in some unrelated field of study can choose to complete one of the dedicated programs, for instance, for crime scene technicians. Such programs intended to provide a detailed study of crime scene management, at the same time offering numerous opportunities for quality on-the-job training.
Moving forward, you will need some real-life experience, and since, as a rule, employers want their future specialists to have at least six months (but two years are much better) of being on duty, it is a good idea to obtain an internship or a job within the crime scene investigator field. This on-job-training is extremely important not only because it makes you an attractive candidate for your eventual employer but, in the first place, because it gives you the precious knowledge and necessary skills you can’t get the other way.
Even though internships come with lower pay and often fewer hours, do not skip this opportunity to elevate your level of expertise while learning from seasoned police officers or specialists that work for law enforcement agencies. By the way, completing an internship is a common requirement for various undergraduate and graduate degree programs, hence some of them can be available only for students.
Many CSI jobs require professional certification, and you can complete the majority of them through the International Association for Identification (IAI). If you are plotting to get your certification as a full-time crime scene investigator, you will need to spend at least one year working in the field and pass an exam. In accordance with your plans, you can choose to complete several certifications (forensic art, latent print, bloodstain pattern analysis, and others) to boost your career growth.
It’s common knowledge that many CSIs come directly from the police force without earning their bachelor’s degree but with years of experience in the field. However, if you have ambitious plans for your future career, a relevant bachelor’s degree is something you will need to achieve your goals.