Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Massachusetts

According to data provided by the FBI and Uniform Crime Reports, the incidence of violent crime in the state of Massachusetts has risen from 2512 in 1960, when the state’s population was 5,148,578; to 26,953 in 2012, when the population of Massachusetts was recorded at 6,646,144. Crime scene investigators (CSI) in Massachusetts likely investigated many of these violent crime scenes, collecting evidence to analyze in helping to solve the crimes. Massachusetts CSI professionals work in the regional offices of federal agencies, as well as within local and state law enforcement agencies. In recent years, CSIs in Massachusetts have been busy collecting evidence at high-profile crime scenes, including the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013; and the arrest and subsequent conviction in September 2013 of a man in Worcester who was plotting to kidnap and eat children.

Crime scene investigators in Massachusetts may first start out in law enforcement jobs such as that of police officer and deputy sheriff, and rise through the ranks to CSI. Civilians with the proper education and training, however, are also readily accepted into the CSI profession in Massachusetts.

Titles of CSI jobs in Massachusetts include:

  • Forensic anthropologist
  • DNA technician
  • Latent fingerprint examiner
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Police officer
  • Detective

Crime Scene Investigator Education in Massachusetts

As CSI jobs in Massachusetts vary, so does the type of education offered to prepare for them. Jobs at different levels require different educational credentials and training. Certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in disciplines within crime scene investigation are offered in Massachusetts and are applicable to a myriad of CSI jobs throughout the state.

The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences may accredit a college or university that offers programs in crime scene investigation and/or forensic science /forensic studies. While some employers prefer to hire CSI professionals who graduated from accredited institutions, this is not mandatory.

CSI Certificates and Associate Degrees in Massachusetts

Evidence technology and collection jobs in Massachusetts usually require an associate’s degree or certificate from an accredited college or university. Types of CSI jobs in Massachusetts requiring an associate’s degree or certificate are:

  • Evidence Technician
  • DNA Technician

Associate degree and certificate programs in crime scene investigation that are offered in Massachusetts include:

  • Associate of Science in Biotechnology, Concentration in Forensic DNA Science
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Science

CSI Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in Massachusetts

Possession of at least a bachelor’s degree is required for these CSI jobs in Massachusetts:

  • Forensics Examiner, Department of Homeland Security
  • Forensic Science Examiner, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Fingerprint Examiner, County and City Police Departments

Massachusetts institutions currently offer the following bachelor’s and higher CSI-related degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Concentration in Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Forensics
  • Master of Science in Forensic Anthropology
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Forensic Science 

Professional CSI Certification in Massachusetts

Professional organizations offer certification to CSI workers in Massachusetts who have experience in the field. These professional certifications can enhance a resume, and include:

Law Enforcement Organizations that Support CSI Jobs in Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section – The state police’s Crime Scene Services Section is responsible or documenting, collecting and processing evidence at major crime scenes throughout Massachusetts. This includes laboratories in North Sudbury, Devens, Danvers, Springfield, Lakeville, Bourne and Boston.
  • Town of Framingham Police Department – Crime Scene Services – Even smaller Massachusetts towns such as Framingham with a population under 70,000 have an Identification Bureau within its Crime Scene Services unit. Collecting and processing evidence, photography, videography and fingerprint collecting are just a few of the CSI techniques used by this department.
  • FBI-Boston Division – Evidence Response Teams – The FBI’s Boston Division has its own Evidence Response Team which is deployed to federal crime scenes to gather and process evidence. An example of a recent crime scene in which this team was used is the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, in which evidence was collected and analyzed to determine who to charge with the crime.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Massachusetts

Sixty forensic scientists had jobs in Massachusetts in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Eighty-three percent of them were located in the Boston area.

Forensic scientist wages in the state are fairly high.  The average salary for forensic science technicians in Massachusetts in 2012 was the fourth highest in the country.  Boston had the ninth highest salaries of any metropolitan area in the country.  Wages for Massachusetts as a whole and for Boston are shown below:

Massachusetts City
Average Annual Salary
Massachusetts-statewide
$69360
Boston
$71320

2013 salary information is available for a forensic scientist I-DNA position in Maynard.  It paid from $49,037 to $66,267 a year.

The crime labs in Massachusetts are major employers of forensic scientists.  The Boston Police has a Crime Laboratory Unit, and the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory has a number of labs throughout the state.  They are located in the following cities:

  • Boston
  • Bourne
  • Danvers
  • Devens
  • Lakeville
  • North Sudbury
  • Springfield

Crime scene investigation is one of the focuses of the Forensic Services Group of the state police.  In contrast to lab technicians, crime scene investigators (CSIs) collect evidence at crime scenes and preserve it for further analysis.  Some of the types of evidence preserved include the following:

  • Footwear tracks
  • Latent fingerprints
  • Tire tracks

Many CSIs throughout the country are civilians, but in Massachusetts, they are primarily sworn officers.  According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a crime scene investigator in Massachusetts in the year preceding October 2013 was $67,000.

The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of hourly and annual salary levels for all forensic science technicians in the Boston area in the following table:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
50
70940
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
50
71320

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts

The importance of forensic science and crime scene investigations was never clearer than during the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013. Forensic scientists and CSIs were able to gather evidence from the crime scene and piece together information on who made the explosive devices, based largely on the materials that were used. Thirty specially trained forensic science experts worked the scene to help piece this information together. The information they collected and evidence they gathered helped police find and arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

Requirements for Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Boston

Given the vast nature of the forensic science and crime scene investigation fields in Boston and the surrounding area, job offerings are diverse and requirements differ from one job to another.

Examples of forensic science and CSI jobs found in Boston and their requirements are shown here:

  • Digital Evidence Analyst – Requires at least five years of digital evidence experience, as well as strong training and knowledge in criminal justice and computer systems
  • Senior Data Science Analyst – Requires a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and two to four years of experience
  • Research Technician – Requires a bachelor’s degree in biology or science and one year of laboratory experience
  • Associate Scientist – Requires a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and at least one year of laboratory experience

Getting the Forensic Science and CSI Education

Degrees and certificates are required for most Boston-based CSI and forensic science jobs. There is a variety of relevant college-level programs offered in Boston and online, including:

  • Bachelor of Science: Biochemistry/Forensic Science Concentration – This degree is ideal for employment in crime laboratories within various positions. Coursework includes:
    • Criminalistics Lab
    • Microscopy Lab for Trace Analysis
    • Law and Legal System
    • Forensic Science
    • Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
    • Physical Evidence Testimony
  • Master of Science: Biomedical Forensic Science – This degree trains professionals to work as scientists in forensic laboratories. Classes include:
    • Crime scene investigation
    • Criminal law and ethics
    • Forensic chemistry
    • Forensic biology
    • Trace evidence analysis
    • Molecular biology
    • Research in forensic sciences
  • Master of Science: Forensic Anthropology – This degree is perfect for students who wish to analyze biological and skeletal anthropology and conduct medicolegal death investigations. Courses include:
    • Human anatomy
    • Biostatistics
    • Outdoor crime scene awareness
    • Techniques in forensic anthropology
    • Forensic pathology
    • Homicide investigation
    • Medicolegal death investigation

Organizations Supporting Forensic Laboratory Science and CSI Jobs in Boston

  • Boston Police Crime Laboratory Unit – The primary crime lab for the Boston Police Department, this laboratory unit provides local law enforcement with the following types of services:
    • Evidence collection
    • Evidence and case review
    • Crime scene processing
    • Evidence preservation
    • Forensic lectures/presentations
    • Courtroom testimony training
  • Massachusetts State Police Forensic Services Group –The Forensic Services Group (Crime Laboratory) of the Massachusetts State Police is in 11 locations statewide, including the following sections/units in Boston:
    • Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section – This section of Forensic Services processes, collects and documents evidence taken from major crime scenes statewide. Crimes that are included are breaking and entering, vehicle accidents, suspicious deaths, sexual assaults, armed robberies and homicides. State Troopers and civilians staff the laboratory located in Boston, and are specially trained in evidence processing and crime scene investigation.
    • Administration Unit – Located in Maynard, about 20 miles from Boston, the Administration Unit provides human resources, financial, and technical assistance to the Forensic Services Group.
    • Case Management Unit – Located in Maynard, this unit handles the assignment of cases throughout the laboratory system
    • CODIS Unit – Located in Maynard, this unit is responsible for DNA processing through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
    • Criminalistics Section – With a location in Maynard, professionals in this section help to analyze biological and physical evidence taken from crime scenes and submitted to the Crime Lab. Tests are performed on trace evidence such as fibers and hairs; on biological evidence such as feces, urine, saliva, semen and blood; and chemical analysis is performed on distance determination and gunshot residue.
    • Digital Evidence and Multimedia Section – Located in Maynard, this section is responsible for the examination of digital and multimedia evidence seized at crime scenes, such as CDs, DVDs, hard drives, mobile devices, surveillance video capture, analog and digital video and audio files, and images.
    • DNA Research, Development and Training Unit – Located in Maynard, this section is responsible for training and research in DNA analysis and the Forensic Biology unit.
    • Firearms Identification Section – With a location in Maynard, this section conducts tests on firearms and related evidence.

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, located in the Western part of Massachusetts and the state’s third most populated city, is known for its high rates of violent and property crimes. In 2012, according to FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) reports, the crime rate in Springfield was 59 per 1000 residents – one of the highest rates of crime in the United States when comparing communities of all sizes. Neighborhood Scout lists Springfield among the 100 most dangerous cities in the US.

Educational Options in Forensic Science and CSI in Springfield

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in the Springfield area and online to help students achieve their dreams of starting a career in crime scene investigation and/or forensic science. They include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biology – This program includes courses in microbiology, general biology, cell biology recombinant DNA/fingerprinting, genetics, general chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physics, criminal investigation, and ethics. It prepares forensic biologists to work in:
    • Crime laboratories
    • Analytical laboratories
    • Law enforcement agencies
    • Medical examiners’ offices
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry – This program includes courses in the judicial process, criminal investigation, ethics, physics, biochemistry, toxicology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and analytical chemistry. It prepares students for work in the following forensic science settings in Springfield:
    • Analytical laboratories
    • Hospital laboratories
    • Pharmaceutical/toxicological labs
    • Medical examiners’ offices
    • Law enforcement agencies
    • Crime laboratories

Forensic Science and CSI Jobs Found in Springfield

A review of classified ads in the Springfield area will reveal forensic science and CSI jobs such as the following:

  • Digital Forensic Specialist – requires bachelor degree in Computer Science and four years of related experience
  • Forensic Psychologist – requires doctoral degree in psychology and Massachusetts licensure
  • Analytic Chemistry Supervisor – requires a minimum of a bachelor degree in chemistry or biology (Master degree preferred) and two to six years of experience (depending upon one’s degree level)
  • Forensic Psychiatrist – requires doctoral degree in psychiatry, Massachusetts licensure, certification as a specialist in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or board certification in Adult or Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and specialty certification in forensic psychiatry.

Law Enforcement Employers of Forensic Lab Techs and CSIs in Springfield

Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory/Forensic Services Group – Springfield is the location of the State Police’s West Sub-Laboratory. Included at the Springfield location is:

  • Evidence Control Unit – The intake and inventorying of crime scene evidence happens here in Springfield and at three other locations. Springfield only accepts non-drug evidence Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Firearms Identification Section – Experts identify, examine and compare firearms and evidence relating to firearms
  • Criminalistics Unit – Specially trained evidence processers handle trace, physical and biological evidence here
  • Crime Scene Services Section – Staffed by State Police officers and civilians who are trained in crime scene evidence gathering and processing

Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory/Forensic Services Group Drug Unit  – Located in Amherst, about 25 miles from Springfield, the Drug Unit analyzes contraband drugs seized by the State Police in crimes throughout the Commonwealth. Drugs commonly analyzed here include prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. The unit employs Drug Chemists. Techniques used in these analyses include:

  • Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometers (GC-MS)
  • Gas Chromatograph-Flame Ionization Detectors (GC-FID)
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers (FTIR)
  • Ultraviolet/Visible Spectrophotometers (UV/VIS)

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Worcester, Massachusetts

Training and educational opportunities are available in Worcester, Massachusetts for forensic science and crime scene investigator jobs such as:

  • Biometrics Research Scientist, which requires a bachelor’s degree
  • Forensic Case Manager, which requires a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience
  • Crime Lab Supervisor, which requires a minimum of a master’s degree

The educational options in Worcester for those interested in forensic science include programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Forensic Science and CSI Education Options Available in Worcester

Crime scene investigation and forensic science are two highly sought after disciplines in the Worcester area. With its proximity to Boston (40 miles), jobs and education for both disciplines are usually abundant.

Degree programs available through schools in the Worcester area include:

  • Associate of Science in Biotechnology – Forensic DNA Science – This program, which claims to be the first of its kind in the nation, provides students with training in actual criminal cases involving the collection and analysis of DNA. Because it also provides a valuable internship, laboratory forensic jobs should be easily attainable after graduation. The curriculum includes:
    • Biology
    • Biotechnology
    • Chemistry
    • Forensic microbiology
    • Criminal law and procedure
    • Molecular biology
    • Organic chemistry
    • Forensic DNA science
    • Criminal evidence
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science – This program prepares graduates to work as forensic scientists and DNA analysts in criminal laboratories after graduation. The curriculum includes:
    • Biology
    • Organic chemistry
    • Criminal procedure
    • Evidence
    • Biochemistry
    • Cell and molecular biology
    • Criminalistics
    • Forensic biology
    • Forensic chemistry
    • Forensic anthropology
    • Crime scene investigation
  • Master of Science in Forensics – This degree prepares students for management and supervisory positions in forensic laboratories and situations. The curriculum includes:
    • Forensic biology
    • Advanced microscopy
    • Forensic science administration
    • Forensic toxicology and drug analysis
    • Advanced criminalistics
    • Crime scene investigation and reconstruction
    • Forensic science research

Top Employers of Forensic Scientists in Worcester

UMass Memorial Medical Center Forensic Toxicology Laboratory – Located in Worcester, this laboratory performs over 70,000 tests each year in analyzing drugs and drug metabolites for individuals, the Medical Examiner’s Office, law enforcement and others. A board certified, ABFT forensic toxicologist is also available within this laboratory for expert witness testimony and consultation.

Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory/Forensic Services Group – The state police’s main forensic group has units and locations in the Worcester area, including:

  • Administration Unit in Sudbury (about 25 miles from Worcester)
  • Trace Analysis Unit in Sudbury, in which evidence technicians examine trace evidence from crime scenes throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Toxicology Unit in Sudbury, in which toxicologists and technicians test blood and urine samples for the presence of drugs and alcohol
  • Quality Assurance Unit in North Sudbury, where the Forensic Service Groups’ accreditation with the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board accreditation is maintained
  • Identification Section in Sudbury, where fingerprint records are maintained by latent print experts and technicians
  • Evidence Control Unit in Sudbury, where all items submitted to the Forensic Services Group receive intake and inventory procedures, as well as storage and transportation to other facilities as needed.
  • Arson and Explosives Unit in Sudbury, where evidence technicians specialize in and analyze evidence recovered from crime scenes that involved suspicious explosions and fires.

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