National Avg. Salary

$79,620 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

-1.2% More Growth Data →

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Crime scene investigators collect forensic evidence along with law enforcement officials at crime scenes. They determine what evidence needs to be collected by evaluating the crime scene, use a variety of tools and techniques to collect and document evidence, and transport evidence to labs for analysis.

Checkmark What is a Crime Scene Investigator?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in crime scene investigator roles:

  • Visit crime scenes and evaluate the types of evidence that needs to be collected
  • Investigate crime scenes to uncover evidence that perpetrators unintentionally left behind
  • Collect evidence using a variety of techniques, including taking photographs, collecting fingerprints and DNA, mapping blood spatters, and collecting materials for further analysis
  • Transport materials safely to labs
  • Conduct laboratory tests to transform collected materials into evidence

A Day in the Life

Crime scene investigators arrive at the scene of crimes shortly after a crime scene is discovered. They use their skills and talents to collect evidence that can be used to determine what happened during a crime: what weapon was used, who the perpetrator was, and how the event unfolded. They do this by evaluating a crime scene for evidence, looking for fingerprints, DNA, weapons, footprints, and materials that seem to be out of place, such as soil from a different land type than the location of the crime.

Beyond collecting evidence, crime scene investigators also document crime scenes. They take photographs and create mappings of evidence like blood spatters. All of this evidence is thoroughly documented and taken back to laboratories where it can be evaluated to begin creating the story of a crime. In the lab, the crime scene investigator runs fingerprints and DNA samples to identify who was present when a crime occurred, and may work with special forensic scientists to test unusual evidence to determine if it bears any significance to the crime or perpetrator.

With collected evidence and laboratory findings, crime scene investigators are able to use collected evidence to support detectives in identifying perpetrators and building a case against them. The crime scene investigator reports his/her findings to the detective in charge of the case and finds evidence that supports or disproves different theories on what occurred and who participated. The crime scene investigator may also be required to participate in court trials to explain the methods used to collect evidence and form theories.

Typical Work Schedule

In large police departments, crime scene investigators generally work full-time schedules, but they may work part-time for small police departments in areas with few crimes. Crime scene investigators may be required to work all shifts—including evenings, weekends, and holidays—because an investigator must also be available to investigate discovered crime scenes.

Projected Job Growth

Advances in the forensic sciences have made crimes simpler than ever to solve, and forensic evidence is a crucial part of almost all crime investigations and trials. This is expected to increase the demand for crime scene investigators significantly over the coming decade to ensure individuals are available to collect important forensic evidence at crime scenes.

Typical Employers

Crime scene investigators are typically employed by state and local governments and work for police departments, crime labs, morgues, and coroners’ offices.

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Clipboard How To Become a Crime Scene Investigator

For the most part, crime scene investigators are both scientists and trained police officers. Most begin their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a field of natural sciences, such as chemistry, biology, or forensics. These degrees each teach aspiring crime scene investigators about the basic physiological components that will become important in their careers when they begin working as crime scene investigators.

The reason for starting your education by earning a bachelor’s degree is most police departments require you to be 21 years old to begin police academy training. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you need to enroll in a training academy with a local police department. In police academy, you’ll learn self-defense, weapon handling, and emergency response techniques. After completion of police academy training and passing required written and psychological tests, you’ll be a qualified police officer.

Next, you’ll need to secure a role assisting experienced crime scene investigators. Most crime scene investigators are trained on the job for many years before performing investigations on their own. They must learn how to collect and document evidence, how to perform lab tests, and how to transform evidence into facts. Some also choose to go on to earn master’s degrees in forensic science to pursue roles in more prestigious and populated areas, but a master’s degree is not an absolute requirement.

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Wallet Crime Scene Investigator Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

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National Hourly Wage

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Average Average


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How do Crime Scene Investigator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Crime Scene Investigator's can make an average annual salary of $79,620, or $38 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $53,810 or $26 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #143 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

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Graduation Cap Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Crime Scene Investigator. a Bachelor's is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Chart Highest Education Among Crime Scene Investigator

  • 2.3%   Doctorate
  • 13.1%   Masters
  • 41.8%   Bachelors
  • 12.3%   Associates
  • 22.9%   College
  • 7.2%   High School
  • 0.4%   Less than High School

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Chart Up Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Crime Scene Investigator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -1,400 jobs for a total of 115,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -1.2% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #640 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

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Employee What Companies Employ The Most Crime Scene Investigators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 48,500 2,700 3%
Federal government, excluding postal service 45,500 -4,400 -4%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 21,300 400 0%

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