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Criminal Justice Articles

What is the job outlook for Crime Scene Investigators?

Thanks to popular TV crime shows the field of crime scene investigation is looking hotter than ever and shows no signs of slowing down. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that though production in some areas requiring science technicians has declined the need for skilled forensic science technicians will actually be higher than the average, with 4,000 new jobs created by the year 2016. Of course, job demand is not the only area that interested parties should consider.

Crime scene investigators are normally required to have a bachelor's degree, though requirements will vary based on area. Those who apply for jobs in rural areas where there is less competition may be able to get by with only a high school diploma. The majority of the over 13,000 forensic scientists in the country however, work for state and federal governments because smaller police departments do not have a separate budget to hire a crime scene investigator. In these areas police officers may be required to do the work of a crime scene investigator, or they may request an investigator from a nearby large city.

Part of the increasing rise for crime scene investigators comes from increases in technology and realization that highly trained technicians have the knowledge to prevent errors in analyzing and collecting data from crime scenes. Thereby, providing results that will stand up in court once the criminal in an investigation has been identified. In fact, DNA identification is expected to be a major fixture in crime scene investigations in the 21st century. By talking to school advisors and finding out about local job opportunities for forensic scientists, graduates can be sure to find a career path that offers long-term stability and room for moving up.

Salaries for investigators will vary by region, and those with more experience and education can be expected to earn more. Specialization will also affect earnings potential. At the bottom end of the scale, investigators can expect to make around $25,000 a year. Those with advanced degrees, years of service, and in a specialization with a greater need could double that salary. However, the median range seems to be around $40,000. Of course this is only an average, individuals could make more or less depending on a number of factors determined by the hiring police department. Investigators can remain competitive for salary increases by taking continuing education courses to keep their training up to date.

Like any job in criminal justice, crime scene investigators will have to do a lot of work to earn their pay. Crime scene investigators work in a variety of conditions. In some cases, they may be required to collect evidence at a crime scene outdoors in bad weather. For many the job can be emotionally stressful, investigators may be called in after a murder or sexual assault, and are expected to remain professional and be on call when needed. Most work an intense schedule well over the average and are expected to respond to emergencies at any time of the day or night.

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