There isn’t much crime in Connecticut; according to the 2006 U.S. Census Connecticut ranks 37th among the U.S. states in violent crimes per 100,000 people. Nonetheless, there are 80 crime scene investigators (CSIs) employed in the state, 30 of whom are working in Hartford, and a predicted 19 percent job growth rate projected through 2020.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual mean wage of CSIs in Connecticut is $65,200 and somewhat lower ($59,000) in the city of Bridgeport.
Persons who love both science and solving mysteries might find the job of crime scene investigator ideal. Although not as glamorous as portrayed on TV, the work of a CSI is critically important, both for putting bad guys away and for proving the innocence of those falsely accused. CSIs carefully collect and analyze evidence at a crime scene. The entire scene is photographed to preserve how it was before anything has been touched or removed. Some employers have both a CSI who collects and analyzes evidence and a forensic photographer who takes pictures of all kinds of evidence, from blood splatters to the smallest scratches on the body of a victim. Photographs that accompany verbal descriptions of a crime make the case more real for a jury.
Crime scene investigators bag and tag all manner of evidence, including latent evidence, which consists of things not easily visible to the naked eye, like fingerprints or chemicals. They prepare forms, reports and other documents and often orally present their findings to a jury.
Requirements for Becoming a CSI in Connecticut
The requirements that must be met to get an entry-level job as a crime scene investigator in the city of Bridgeport vary somewhat with the employer and the particular position; however, the following are pretty general:
- College Degree. Although some low-level jobs can be secured with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry or another physical science offers the best chance of success. There are at least three schools in Connecticut with degree programs in crime scene investigation.
- Knowledge of photography
- Ability to use sophisticated lab equipment
- Computer proficiency
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Knowledge of forensic basics like lifting fingerprints
- Good health
- Physically fit – CSIs are required to kneel, bend, reach, climb and carry heavy objects.
- Mentally stable – CSIs must be able to work under pressure and to deal calmly with disturbing and often gruesome crime scenes.
Most new employees are given extensive on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced crime scene investigator.
Crime Scene Investigation Certification and Specialization
A crime scene investigator’s career can be bolstered by continuing education, training and certification. The International Association of Identification (IAI), the world’s oldest and largest forensic association, offers CSI certification to individuals who have spent at least one year working full-time investigating crime scenes and who have taken a minimum of 48 hours of board approved courses within the last five years. There is a $200 testing fee for an initial certification. The IAI also offers the following specialized certification programs:
- Latent Print
- Bloodstain Pattern Analyst
- Forensic photography
- Forensic Art
- Forensic Video
- Tenprint Fingerprint
In addition, working CSIs desiring to specialize in firearms/ballistics can complete a five-day training program in “Toolmark Identification and Comparison” offered by the National Firearms Examiner Academy, a division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.