According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 forensic scientists worked in Montana in 2012. They earned $56,450 a year. Among these scientists are crime scene technicians (CSIs). These forensic scientists specialize in documenting crime scenes and preserving evidence for further analysis back in a crime lab. On call 24/7, hallmarks of these professionals include having a strong scientific training, attention to detail, and the ability to stay composed at crime scenes.
Montana Crime Scene Investigation Units
90% of CSIs work for the government, and Montana is no exception. Most of the CSIs in the state are employed by state or local law enforcement agencies. Some of the agencies that employ CSIs include the following:
- Missoula Police Department
- Evidence and Identification Section of the Detective Division
- Great Falls Police Department
- Investigative Services Bureau
- Montana Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI)
The Montana Department of Justice’s DCI has the state’s premier crime lab located in Billings. In addition to performing analyses of evidence in the lab, their forensic scientists provide assistance to law enforcement agencies that need help preserving evidence from crime scenes. This is often one of the most urgent requests that they receive.
CSI Education and Training in Montana
The level of education and training can vary greatly for CSIs depending on whether they are civilian positions such as police evidence technicians or whether they are detectives with years of investigative experience who have training in forensics.
In Montana, to become a civilian CSI generally requires a high school diploma or GED. Experience is preferred. Since the popular media has generated a strong interest in the CSI field, there is a lot of competition for these types of jobs. Applicants can distinguish themselves by having formal college training in CSI. Frequently, this can be obtained through a specialty from an education in criminal justice.
Prospective students in Montana can obtain a bachelor’s degree specializing in criminology from a school in Montana. Other options include pursuing a degree in criminal justice from one of the accredited online schools that offers studies in this field.
CSIs who are sworn officers will have to meet the standards to be accepted by a law enforcement agency and undergo academy training. Having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can also help these professionals gain employment. Generally, these officers will have to serve for several years before being chosen for further training in forensics.
CSI Certification in Montana
Professional forensic scientists in Montana have several options to join organizations that promote training in their field. One choice is the Montana Violent Crime Investigators Association. This network of Montana law enforcement officers emphasizes training in several areas, among them crime scene techniques.
Another option is to join the International Association of Identification. This worldwide forensic organization offers certification to professionals who have obtained a high level of skill in such areas as:
- Blood pattern analysis
- Fingerprint analysis
- Crime scene investigation
- Forensic art and video