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Career Spotlight: Crime Scene Investigator

You may have heard of the occupation ‘CSI’ or Crime Scene Investigator, the individual who extracts evidence from a crime scene and pieces them together to guide law enforcement professionals in solving the case. Becoming a CSI is a long but worth-it journey, as individuals get the ability to identify perpetrators and analyze a crime scene.


Undergraduate School

The first step to becoming a crime scene investigator is earning a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. The institution one earns a bachelor’s degree from is typically called an ‘accredited post-secondary institution.’ Individuals customarily major in the natural sciences which includes chemistry, forensic science, criminal justice, etc. It is recommended to take core classes and electives related to forensics, psychology, legal studies, and other pertinent subjects.

Law-Enforcement training.

Most CSIs opt to take a path in law-enforcement and complete the police academy. This is the recommended route as CSIs will have to receive training under an experienced technician; these experienced technicians would prefer to have an apprentice with extensive background in the police force.

Law Enforcement training may take from six months to three years, and a proficiency exam will be administered. Most forensic jobs are actually in law enforcement, for more information click this

Gain Professional Certification

ICSIA: International Crime Scene Investigators Association

  • The ISCIA offers Crime Scene Investigator Certification. There are multiple requirements necessary to earn this, the primary one being the individual applying for certification must work in a law enforcement agency.

  • They should complete at least 50 hours of post-secondary courses in crime scene processing, pass a written test with 100 questions, and pass a paper test about protocol.

  • They should have experience in outdoor, indoor, and motor vehicle crime. They should show proof of this as well as a macro photography assignment and a crime scene processed at night.

IAI: International Association for Identification

  • The IAI is the largest forensic organization in the world, it offers four certifications: Senior Crime Scene Analyst, Crime Scene Reconstructionist, Crime Scene Investigator, Crime Scene Analyst, each of which requires a score of at least 75 on an exam.

  • Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst

  • 6 years experience

  • 144 hours of instruction in 5 years

  • Authored an article, made a presentation, been an instructor, or gaven court testimony on a case

  • Certified Crime Scene Reconstructionist

  • 5 years experience in crime scene reconstruction

  • 120 hours of instruction in 5 years

  • Certified Crime Scene Investigator

  • 1 year experience

  • 48 hours of instruction in 5 years

  • Certified Crime Scene Analyst

  • 3 years experience

  • 96 hours of instruction in 5 years

ACFEI: The American College of Forensic Examiners Institute

  • ACFEI is a Certified Criminal Investigator .

  • They are first assessed in a plethora of areas including but not limited to history, psychological autopsy, crime scene investigation, etc…

  • Applicants must be at least 21 with no felony convictions and education including

  • Associates with 4 years experience

  • Bachelor’s with 2 years experience

  • 7 years experience


  1. Assess the crime scene

  2. Create diagrams + sketches

  3. Take measurements/Take photographs

  4. Maintain technical equipment

  5. Package and transfer the evidence

  6. Summarize the evidence and interpret it

  7. Prepare investigative report + Update the records if necessary

  8. Use the criminal information database

  9. Participate in conferences with law enforcement individuals

  10. Take continuing education courses


Overall Goals

  • Establish what happened in the crime scene

  • Identify the alleged perpetrator

  • Work with law-enforcement professionals

Salary: $60,590

Growth: 14%

Skills: Critical thinking, attention to detail, problem-solving skills.

Overall, CSIs have a wide array of responsibilities ranging from analyzing the crime scene to working with law enforcement professionals to make the proper arrests and save lives on a daily basis. There are multiple paths an individual can take to become one, but they all lead to the same objective: saving lives and bringing justice to survivors and victims.