Crime scene investigators (CSIs) are specialized forensic technicians that document crime scenes and preserve the evidence for further analysis. Despite the portrayal in the popular media, it can take as long as week to document a crime scene and gather all of the evidence.
Minnesota has a number of labs that provide jobs for individuals trained as CSIs, and crime labs in the state employed 100 people as forensic technicians in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual mean wage in the field was $51,740. The field of CSI is expected to grow 18.5% from 2010 to 2012 according to the BLS.
Minnesota Crime Scene Investigation Laboratories
Most CSIs are employed by some form of governmental agency such as crime labs. Minnesota has a number of these labs, including the following:
- Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (MN BCA) in St. Paul and Bemidji
- Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory Unit
- Minneapolis Police Crime Laboratory
- Carver County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory
Other law enforcement agencies in the state have their own crime scene units, generally staffed by officers that have received specialized training in the techniques of crime scene analysis. Three of these agencies are:
- Renville County Sheriff’s Office
- Duluth Police Department
- Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office
Education and Training to Become a CSI in Minnesota
The requirements to become a CSI in Minnesota differ depending on whether the job is for a civilian or sworn officer position. Civilian CSI jobs in the state include such titles as a criminalist or forensic scientist.
Civilian CSI jobs in Minnesota generally require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a science field such as chemistry, biochemistry, or biology, along with experience handling or working with physical evidence. Formal CSI education provides the training necessary for the following skills used at crime scenes:
- Fingerprint analysis
- Casting and impression techniques
- Blood spatter analysis
- Detecting biological fluids
Candidates also need to be able to communicate well both orally and in writing, since they will have to prepare documents about the crime scene and testify in court.
Prospective students in Minnesota can obtain associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from schools in the state and can obtain an associate’s degree in crime scene investigation. Another option is to obtain training from one of the online schools that offer degrees in these fields.
Once applicants have been hired as CSIs, they will need to periodically continue their education to keep abreast of the latest techniques in this field. Frequently, CSIs take additional college courses throughout their careers.
CSI Certification in Minnesota
CSIs may want to join the Minnesota Division of the International Association for Identification, a group of forensic scientists from around the world. This division holds an annual conference in the state to provide continuing education in crime scene investigation and the forensic sciences. It provides certification in CSI and a number of forensic disciplines.