Crime scene investigators are highly trained individuals who must learn both how to investigate and how to record and process crime scenes. In Maryland, opportunities exist for high quality, accredited crime scene investigation (CSI) training and education. Careers can be found in Maryland’s state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as with federal agencies that have offices in the state. The in Located in Rockville, the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division has the largest laboratory in the state. This lab is utilized not only by State Police CSI professionals but also by crime scene investigators working within Maryland’s county and municipal agencies. County sheriff’s offices and city police departments house crime scene investigation careers as well.
Some CSI careers in Maryland require that applicants first work as police officers, but many are open to properly trained civilians with education and experience. Maryland CSIs must adhere to rules to make sure that evidence is collected properly and can therefore be used in criminal trials. These rules include Maryland’s DNA Collection Act and the Maryland Rules of Evidence.
Crime scene investigators in Maryland function in a number of different roles that include:
- Forensic science specialist (FSS)
- Evidence response team
- Evidence technician supervisor
- Crime scene technician
- Crime scene specialist
Crime Scene Investigator Education in Maryland
Becoming a crime scene investigator, or CSI, in Maryland requires education and training in the proper investigative techniques and the latest technology. Depending upon the type of CSI job that one seeks in Maryland, a certificate, undergraduate degree or graduate degree in forensic science, crime scene investigation or a closely related field may be necessary.
Accreditation of a college/university program by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences is also preferred by some Maryland CSI employers, but is not a strict requirement.
CSI Certificates and Associate Degrees in Maryland
Colleges in Maryland that offer certificates and associate degrees in CSI-related fields are intended for those who want to pursue careers in crime scene technology, evidence collection and field evidence technology. Most CSI college certification programs in Maryland require that students first have a minimum number of college credits completed prior to admission, perhaps with coursework in criminal justice and/or law enforcement. CSI jobs in Maryland that typically require a certificate or associate’s degree include:
- County Sheriff’s Office Latent Print Examiner
- City Police Department Crime Scene Technician
CSI certificates and associate degrees currently offered in Maryland include:
- Certificate: Crime Scene Investigation
- Associate of Science in Forensic Science
CSI Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in Maryland
A bachelor’s degree or higher is necessary for the following CSI jobs in Maryland:
- County Sheriff’s Office Fingerprint Assistant
- City police department Crime Scene Supervisor
- County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Analyst
For those who wish to pursue these types of careers in crime scene investigation, colleges and universities in Maryland offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs such as:
- Bachelor of Science in Forensics
- Master of Forensic Science
- Master of Science in Crime Scene Investigation
- Master of Science in High Technology Crime Investigation
CSI Professional Certification in Maryland
Two professional organizations offer certification programs for those who are already in the crime scene investigation field. These programs are intended for professionals who already have criminal justice, crime scene or law enforcement experience. They include:
- International Association for Identification Crime Scene Certification (IAI) – Maryland falls into the Chesapeake Bay Region of this international organization. Certifications in the following areas are offered for those who have a minimum of one year to six years of crime scene experience:
- Certified Crime Scene Investigator
- Certified Crime Scene Analyst
- Certified Crime Scene Reconstructionist
- Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst
- American Board of Criminalistics – Maryland is part of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists under this national organization. Certification requires a bachelor’s degree plus two year of professional experience working in criminalistics.
Law Enforcement Organizations that Support CSI Jobs in Maryland
- FBI –Baltimore Division – Evidence Response Team – These special agents who are trained in crime scene investigation are sent to federal crime scenes to secure the scene, gather, and process evidence. One notable Maryland case in recent years that FBI crime scene investigators worked concerned a case of the murder of a newborn baby in Ocean City.
- Maryland State Police (MSP) Forensic Sciences Division – In the MSP, Crime Scene Investigation falls under the Forensic Sciences Division of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, Operational Services. This section of the division operates mobile units statewide for handling crime scenes, collecting evidence, photographing and support staff. The main laboratory is at the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Pikesville. Regional laboratories in Hagerstown and Berlin also support the work of the MSP Forensic Sciences Division.
- Montgomery County Police Department – -Criminal Investigations Division – Crime Laboratory -Crime Scene Unit (FSS)– This county police department’s Crime Scene Unit is responsible for crime scene investigation in six districts within Montgomery County – Bethesda, Rockville, Montgomery Village, Germantown, Wheaton and Silver Spring.
- Charles County Sheriff’s Office – Criminal Investigations Division – Investigations Section – Forensics (CSI) – The CSI division of this county sheriff’s office is responsible for investigation of crime scenes in four districts across Charles County – Waldorf East, Waldorf West, Indian Head and La Plata. FSU professionals in Charles County are specially trained in advanced crime scene processing, including evidence recovery, blood collection and fingerprinting. In 2012, FSU workers in Charles County responded to over 175 crime scenes and collected 515 items for DNA analysis from 127 investigations. FSU work was responsible for solving a 27-year-old kidnapping and rape case in 2012, as FSU professionals used new technology to get a DNA profile on the assailant. As a result, he was arrested, indicted and remanded to Jessup’s Maryland Department of Corrections.
- Harford County Sheriff’s Office Evidence Collection Unit – Trained crime scene investigators work in this county sheriff’s office evidence collection unit, under its Criminal Investigations Division. They are responsible for crime scene investigation across Harford County, including (but not limited to) Abingdon, Aberdeen, Bel Air, Churchville, Darlington, Fallston, Fawn Grove and Havre de Grace.
Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Maryland
Maryland is a good state for finding jobs as forensic scientists. There are several reasons for this.
Forensic scientist employment level. Maryland had the fifth highest level of employment of forensic scientists in the county in 2012 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Six hundred and fifty such scientists were working in the state in 2012.
Employment levels are expected to increase to even greater levels. Maryland’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning projected that 81 positions would become open for forensic scientists in the period from 2012 to 2014.
Another factor to look at that shows the availability of jobs is the concentration of jobs in the state. Maryland had the third highest concentration of forensic science jobs of any state in the county. Approximately one out of every 4000 employees in the state was a forensic scientist.
Two cities in Maryland were in the top six metropolitan areas in the country with the highest concentration of jobs. Baltimore was fifth, while Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick was sixth.
Forensic scientist salaries. The Bethesda area had the seventh highest average salary for forensic scientists of any city in the country. The average salary for the state and selected cities for 2012 is shown below, along with the average salary of experienced professionals in the 90th percentile of their wage bracket.
2013 salary information is available for specific forensic science positions in the state:
CSI salaries. While many forensic scientists work as lab technicians, others work in the field as crime scene investigators (CSIs). This involves documenting crime scenes and collecting physical evidence to preserve it for further analysis.
Crime scene investigator salaries can be variable, depending on the specifications of the job and the CSI’s level of experience. Salaries also vary, because some CSIs are sworn officers, while others are civilians. A crime laboratory technician I salary in Baltimore in 2013 ranged from $35,947 to $43,361 a year.
The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of hourly and annual salary percentiles throughout Maryland. It is shown in the table below:
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland has one of the highest per capita crime rates of any city in the United States. Though the city has seen a reduction in murders, from 261 in the year 2000, to 196 in 2011, the city still consistently ranks as one of the top 20 most dangerous cities in the country. Crime rates are due in part to high rates of drug dealing and consumption. In fact, ABC News deemed Baltimore the nation’s “Heroine Capital.” High levels of poverty and unemployment also contribute to crime.
Baltimore police officers have their hands full battling a combination of gang and neighborhood violence, drug dealing, and other anti-social behavior. However, over the years Baltimore police have strengthened their arsenal in the fight against criminals by focusing more on prevention. With the help of such professionals as crime scene investigators and forensic laboratory scientists, whose job it is to enter the scene of some of Baltimore’s most notorious neighborhoods and crime scenes, Baltimore is turning the tide against crime. CSI agents in Baltimore collect vital samples at the scene of the crime, take witness statements, and collect other evidence that will help law enforcement put the bad guys behind bars.
The field of crime scene investigation is expected to see 19 percent growth between 2010 -2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field, which is called “forensic science technicians” by the BLS, has a median pay in the range of $51,570.
Also of note:
- Baltimore Police officers start at $41,058
- Baltimore County PD cadets earn $24,295, while officers start at $46,699
- Maryland Transportation Authority Police cadets earn $23,524, while officers start at $40,207
- Maryland State Police (Troopers) start at $40,000
Getting a University Degree
The Baltimore area is known for its dense population of world-class colleges and universities. This is a good location in which to study for a career in forensic science and crime scene investigations.
Though many fields of study are possible, a degree in any forensic science is preferable. However, other formidable degrees include:
- Criminal Justice
Baltimore should be considered a mid-sized city with the police department of a major city. The Baltimore Police Department is the 8th largest municipal police force in the country. Coming up through the ranks as a police officer in Baltimore may be enough to facilitate entry into the field of CSI, but having at least an associate’s degree is always preferred. Becoming a police officer in order to eventually enter the world of forensic science does have its benefits, including learning proper police procedures, and making a name for one’s self. However, it should be noted that in order to successfully complete the police academy, and be promoted to a full-fledged police officer in Baltimore, could take a year or more.
Crime Scene Investigator and Forensic Laboratory Scientist Employers in Baltimore
Maryland State Police – The Maryland State Police is the official police department for the entire state of Maryland. Described as a “paramilitary organization”, they take their organizational structure cues from the U.S. military. This is both a powerful and well-funded police force in the state of Maryland, and in Baltimore.
Baltimore City Police – The Baltimore City Police is the primary police department in the city of Baltimore. They are usually the first responders to crimes and situations that arise within city limits.
Maryland Transportation Authority Police – The Maryland Transportation Police are a statewide agency, but have their largest contingency in Baltimore, as it is the state’s largest city. CSI agents in this department can expect to see a combination of transportation and crime related cases.
Baltimore County Police – Baltimore County Police are responsible for Baltimore County, as opposed to Baltimore City. These two departments must work together closely as the border shared by the two municipalities does not hinder the criminal element.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Columbia, Maryland
Given the ubiquitous nature of digital technology, criminal evidence is often digital, rather than physical, and requires specially trained professionals properly handle and process it for analysis. The Columbia, Maryland area is home to many companies that contract with the U.S. military and U.S. government to handle such evidence for them. Law enforcement also is in need of computer forensic/digital forensic analysts to process and interpret such evidence.
Columbia-based forensic science and crime scene investigator jobs require applicants to have a certificate or degree in a related discipline. In the Columbia area, the following types of educational options are available:
- Associate of Science in Forensic Science
- Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Studies
Job Requirements for Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Columbia
Forensic science and CSI are broad disciplines with many and varied types of jobs in the Columbia area. Here are just a few examples of forensic science and CSI jobs in Columbia and the surrounding area and the requirements for each job:
- Computer forensics technician:
- Bachelor’s degree in computer forensic science or a related field
- Five years of related experience
- Media forensic analyst:
- Five years of experience in computer network theory, media malware analysis and software reverse engineering
- Computer forensic examiner:
- Bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or related field
- Two years of experience in computer forensics and/or computer systems analysis
- Crime scene investigator:
- Bachelor of science in forensic science or a related field
- Two or more years of experience
Organizations Supporting Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Columbia
Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division – Located in Pikesville, approximately 20 miles from Columbia, the MSP Forensic Sciences Division has two branches:
- Scientific Analysis Branch – which houses:
- Trace Evidence Section – includes specialists in Questioned Documents and Trace Evidence
- Pattern Evidence Section – includes specialists in Firearms/Toolmarks and Latent Prints/Impressions
- Chemistry Section –includes Toxicologists and CDS Unit Specialists
- Biology Section – includes the Casework, Technical and Database Units
- Operational Services Branch- which houses:
- Crime Scene Section- Forensic science and CSI jobs here include Crime Scene Technician and Crime Scene Technician Supervisor
- Photography Unit- Forensic Photographer is the main job here, along with Forensic Photographer Supervisor
- Central Receiving Unit- Administrative Officers and Inventory Control Specialists staff this unit
- Administrative Support Unit- Administrative Specialists, Research Statisticians and Quality Assurance Specialists are the forensic science CSI jobs found here
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory – Located in Columbia, this laboratory works with law enforcement and national defense organizations to solve national security problems and advance research in defense and space science. Analysts, operators and engineers are just a few of the job titles here.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Germantown, Maryland
Germantown, Maryland’s third most populated city, was ranked 24th among CNNMoney’s Best Places to Live 2012. Part of the attraction to the city is its close proximity to Washington, D.C. and the many employers there. Forensic science and crime scene investigation (CSI) students will be happy to discover that there are many employers in the area, not only in Germantown but also in nearby Maryland cities and in the nation’s capital. The diversity of employers, from the federal government to law enforcement agencies to privately owned corporations, represents diversity among the types of forensic science and CSI jobs in Germantown.
Most forensic laboratory science and CSI jobs in Germantown and the surrounding area require at least a bachelor degree. Some, however, value experience just as much as education, as seen in the section below. The options for CSI and forensic science education in Germantown include:
- Certificate in Fire and Arson Investigation
- Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice Forensics
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry with specialization in Trace Evidence/Drug Analysis
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry General Forensic Science
Job Requirements for Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Germantown
Germantown is home to many types of forensic science and crime scene investigation (CSI) jobs. Requirements for these jobs differ based upon employers, levels of security clearance necessary and technical expertise vs. experience needed for the job.
Examples of forensic science/CSI jobs in the Germantown area and the requirements for each job are:
- Criminal investigator (federal government):
- Must be younger than 37 years of age
- Must have at least one year of specialized experience
- Bachelor degree is preferred but not mandatory
- Forensic toxicologist (Medical Examiner’s office):
- Bachelor degree in toxicology or in a field that includes 30 hours in chemistry, physiology or biochemistry and 12 hours in toxicology
- One year of specialized experience
- Forensic technician (private company that contracts with U.S. government):
- Bachelor degree in forensic science or related field
- Eligible to obtain Secret or Top Secret level clearance with Sensitive Compartmented Information eligibility
- Forensic analyst (private company that contracts with U.S. defense):
- Bachelor degree in computer science or a related technology discipline
- Eight to ten years of experience in data security administration
- Forensic DNA analyst (private company that works with U.S. government):
- Bachelor degree in biology, forensic science or related field (Master degree preferred)
- One year of DNA experience
Top Employers of Forensic Laboratory Science and CSI Professionals in Germantown
- Montgomery County Department of Police–Criminal Investigations Division–Forensic Services Section/Crime Laboratory – This section of the county police department in Rockville (about 10 miles from Germantown) includes the following units:
- Photography Unit
- Latent Print Unit
- Firearms Examination Unit
- Crime Scene Unit
- Forensic Chemistry Unit
- Forensic Biology Unit (DNA)
- Evidence Unit
- Polygraph Unit
- General Dynamics Information Technology – This international company with a Germantown location contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense to perform computer forensic work. Types of forensic science jobs here include Forensic Analyst and Digital Evidence Analyst.
- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission – Located in Rockville (10 miles from Germantown), this department of the federal government often employs forensic science specialists to help protect the country and the environment from nuclear threats. Computer Forensic Analysts and Senior Cyber Security Specialists are just two examples of the types of forensic jobs here.
- Orchid Cellmark – This international DNA biotesting company with a facility in Germantown works with the U.S. government and the FBI to provide forensic biological and DNA services. Examples of forensic science jobs here include Forensic DNA Analyst.