How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in San Jose, California

The crime scene unit (CSU) is a subset of the San Jose police department’s homicide unit. The CSU responds to the scenes of homicides, officer-involved shootings, child deaths, suspicious deaths and high-profile violent crimes. The crime scene investigators (CSIs) document the scene and identify, collect and preserve physical evidence.

Every San Jose CSI is also assigned cold cases to revisit in light of today’s more advanced forensic technology and databases. As a result, multiple cold cases have been solved in the last year. The San Jose CSU works closely with the Santa Clara Crime Lab.

Requirements for Becoming a Forensic Scientist in San Jose

The Santa Clara County Crime Lab currently employs over 60 forensic scientists, called criminalists. A recent Criminalist II job opening listed the following requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, biochemistry or criminalistics
  • Two years experience as a criminalist OR one year experience in a forensic lab and a Master of Science degree in chemistry or a related field
  • Knowledge of basic principles of criminalistics
  • Knowledge of basic laws of evidence
  • Ability to perform chemical and instrumental analyses
  • Knowledge of basic types of narcotics
  • Able to illustrate competence in toxicology-related testing methods
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to operate photographic equipment
  • Passing grade on both a performance test and a written exam
  • Successfully complete oral interview

Forensic Science and CSA Schools in San Jose

San Jose has several junior colleges that offer associate’s degrees in criminal justice and/or CSI certificates and a number of accredited four-year universities with bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the natural sciences. One university’s degree program in Forensic Science includes the following courses:

  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Crime Scene Photography
  • Biometrics
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Forensic Molecular Biology
  • Fluorescent Applications in Forensic Science

How to Apply for CSI and Forensic Science Jobs in San Jose

Information about job openings with the San Jose Police Department crime scene unit is found on their recruitment page. Applications for forensic scientist positions with the Santa Clara County Crime Lab are only accepted online through county personnel.

The average annual crime scene investigator salary in San Jose is $65,000

The average annual forensic scientist salary in San Jose is $83,000.

The annual salary listed for the Santa Clara County Crime Lab Criminalist II job described above is $67,606.24-$81,806.40.

Santa Clara County Crime Lab

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Crime Lab provides forensic services to all criminal justice agencies in Santa Clara County, of which San Jose is the seat. The crime lab moved to its current 90,072 square foot state-of-the-art facility in San Jose in September 2008. The building is a LEED gold certified sustainable workplace and the sophisticated lab was awarded the highest possible “International” status by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors-Lab Accreditation Board.

The forensic scientists use cutting-edge technology to handle roughly 1,600 major and 15,000 toxicology-contested DUI cases every year. The lab contains classrooms, an evidence triage room, central evidence storage, firing range, photography studio and a vehicle examination area as well as separate laboratories for each of the following units:

  • DNA/serology
  • Computer Forensics
  • Firearms/Toolmarks
  • Forensic Biology
  • Latent Prints
  • Questioned Documents
  • Toxicology
  • Trace Evidence
  • Hazardous Evidence

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