According to the 2011 New Jersey Uniform Crime Report (UCR), crime in major cities in the state has dropped from 2002’s statistics. The state’s total crime rate dropped by 17 percent from 2002 to 2011. In the six major urban cities in New Jersey (Camden, Elizabeth City, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and Trenton), crime decreased by 21 percent, and in the other 15 urban cities in New Jersey, crime decreased by 26 percent during the same time period.
Crime scene investigators, or CSIs, in New Jersey still have plenty of crimes to investigate, however. It is their duty to collect all evidence at a crime scene, process it, and analyze it in order to help solve a crime. Becoming a crime scene investigator in New Jersey requires the right kind of education and, in some cases, a college degree.
Titles of crime scene investigation jobs found in New Jersey include:
- Police officer
- Prosecutor’s agent
- Crime scene investigator (CSI)
Keep reading to discover more information on how to become a crime scene investigator in New Jersey.
Crime Scene Investigator Education in New Jersey
Career training schools and degree granting colleges and universities in New Jersey offer degrees at various levels in crime scene investigation and related disciplines. Depending upon a student’s desired career track, a two, four or six year degree might be necessary to secure a CSI job in New Jersey.
Crime Scene Investigation Certificates and Associate Degrees in New Jersey
Jobs like the following require a minimum of a certificate or associate degree in New Jersey:
- Evidence technician (ET)
- Field technician
Schools in New Jersey offer the following CSI certificates and associate degree programs:
- Forensic Science Certificate
- Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
- Associate of Science in Forensic Science
- Associate of Science in Criminal Investigations
CSI Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the following classifications of CSI jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree:
- Crime scene investigator (CSI), city police department
- Investigator, County Prosecutor’s Office
- Detective, County Prosecutor’s Office
- Prosecutor’s Agent, County Prosecutor’s Office
These crime scene investigation degrees are available in New Jersey at the bachelor’s level and above:
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice-Forensics Track
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology Track
- Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology Track
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry
Professional Organizations for Crime Scene Investigators in New Jersey
There are a variety of professional organizations for crime scene investigators in New Jersey. Some of these organizations may offer training or certification to professionals to maintain or advance their career status.
- New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists
- New Jersey State Division, International Association for Identification
- New Jersey Association of Criminal Justice Educators
Law Enforcement Organizations Sustaining CSI Jobs in New Jersey
New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigations Unit – Located in three areas of New Jersey, the State Police Crime Scene Investigation Units help other law enforcement agencies with full service, partial service or consultant services in crime scene investigations. The North Crime Scene Unit is located in Totowa, the Central Unit is in Hamilton, and the South Crime Scene Unit is in Buena Vista.
Ewing Police Department Crime Scene Unit – The crime scene unit of the city’s police department employs Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) and Evidence Technicians (ETs). They document and investigate the scenes of homicides, sexual assaults, suicides, shooting, suspicious deaths and armed robberies.
Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Technical Services Unit – This unit of the county prosecutor’s office is responsible for seizing, collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes throughout the county.
Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit – The county prosecutor’s office has its own investigation unit responsible for investigating all types of crimes occurring in Ocean County, New Jersey. Recently, investigators were on the scene of the boardwalk fire in Seaside to determine if a crime had been committed. It was determined to be an accidental fire.
FBI- Newark Division – The Newark, New Jersey Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) works on federal crime scenes in the area. There are five satellite offices from which agents may work investigating crime scene, in Trenton, Red Bank, Garret Mountain, Franklin Township and Atlantic City. (The Philadelphia Division of the FBI covers the rest of New Jersey, including Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties).
Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in New Jersey
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects the number of forensic science jobs in the state to increase by 8.8% from 2010 to 2020. Ninety such scientists were employed in the state in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
BLS data indicates that the average salary of a forensic science technician in New Jersey was $55,430 in 2012. Experienced professionals in the top 90th percentile earned an average of $75,770 that year.
One major source of forensic scientist jobs in New Jersey is the Office of Forensic Sciences that is part of the Investigative Branch of the State Police. It has four labs that are located in the following cities:
- Sea Girt
The forensic office has specialties in the following areas:
- Breath testing
- Drug analysis
- Forensic anthropology
- Forensic serology
- Trace evidence
Additional specialties offered by this bureau are crime scene investigation (CSI) units for the north, south, and central parts of the state. They are headquartered in the following cities:
- Buena Vista
CSIs in the state can be either sworn officers or civilian employees. Salary levels differ widely depending on the level of experience of the specialist. Indeed.com gave the average salary for a crime scene investigator in New Jersey as being $61,000 in the year leading up to October 2013.
The BLS provides salary information for forensic science technicians as a whole whose jobs are located at the intersection of New York-White Plains and Wayne area. Both hourly and annual salary percentiles are provided in the following table:
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Jersey City, New Jersey
The tireless work and dedication of CSI professionals and forensic laboratory scientists working in Jersey City recently was enough to secure a conviction against a man who finally admitted to killing five teenage boys in 1978, closing one of the most gruesome cold cases in the state. CSI investigators were able to reconstruct the crime scene, which involved the five victims being locked in a small closet and burned to death. They were able to gather enough evidence that when a tip came in over 30 years later they were able to put the pieces together and successfully prosecute the suspect. Forensic experts involved in cracking the case hailed from:
- New Jersey State Police
- Hudson County Sheriff’s Office
- Jersey City Police Department
How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator and Forensic Scientist in Jersey City
Experienced sheriff and police detectives are capable of conducting many aspects of CSI investigations, and do just that on a regular basis. Candidates for CSI jobs can make themselves more competitive by having any of the following certifications:
- Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
- Crime Scene Analyst
- Forensic Art
- Forensic Photography
CSI specialists assisting responding law enforcement units should have training, education, or both in their field of expertise. For example, working as a forensic photographer in Jersey City requires the incumbent to have either completed a special vocational training program in that field or to have at least one year of related work experience.
There are a number of crime labs in the vicinity of Jersey City and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office operates a crime laboratory on Duncan Avenue specializing in the identification of controlled dangerous chemical substances, which has to-date received more than 27,000 pieces of evidence for analysis. Laboratory forensic science jobs such as this require incumbents to have a master’s degree in their field of expertise, and can range through the following subjects:
- Forensic Science
- Related subjects that contain at least 24 semester hours of study in any of these areas
Laboratory forensic scientists who only have a bachelor’s degree in one of these subjects may be accepted if they have at least two years of related work experience in a professional laboratory.
Studying and Working in Jersey City
After learning how to become a crime scene investigator or forensic laboratory scientist in Jersey City, candidates will next be interested in the educational opportunities located nearby. There are two four-year colleges located within the immediate city limits of Jersey City, as well as over a dozen more within an easy commuting distance – all with relevant degree programs. Online schools also offer additional options for certification and two or four-year degrees.
In addition to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Crime Laboratory there are several other forensic labs located nearby Jersey City:
- New Jersey Forensic Science Laboratory with locations in Trenton and Newark
- Newark Police Department Crime Laboratory
- New Jersey State Medical Examiner in Newark
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Newark, New Jersey
Forensic science jobs in Newark can be found in no less than five different agencies, with around half a dozen additional forensic laboratories within easy commuting distance of the city center. As the commercial center of the state and a large part of the biggest metropolitan area in the country, Newark experiences in a day what other cities experience in a year.
Recent annual statistics show experts in the forensic science field were involved in a total of:
- 1,471 robberies
- 67 murders
- 41 rapes
- 3,139 vehicle thefts
- 1,611 burglaries
Positions ranging from specialty field CSI technician to forensic laboratory scientist can be found in Newark agencies including:
- Newark Police Department
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Essex County Ballistics Laboratory
- New Jersey State Medical Examiner
- New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences
Preparing for a Forensic Science Career in Newark
The Newark Police Department Detective Bureau’s Crime Scene Unit is the primary employer of field CSI specialists in the city. The State Police and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office have additional specially trained CSI units to deploy to crime scenes as needed. Often times these law enforcement agents are deputies and officers who have been promoted over the years to their current positions and are in possession of academic credentials. These include a university degree in any of the following:
- Law Enforcement
- Crime Scene Investigations
- Forensic Science
It is also common for members of these field CSI units to hold certifications in the following areas:
- Crime Scene Video Recording
- Forensic Photography
- Crime Scene Reconstruction
- Latent Print and Fingerprint
Laboratory forensic science jobs in Newark range in variety as much as if not more than field CSI specializations. Education requirements depend largely on a forensic lab scientist’s area of specialization, but in general incumbents for these positions should have a master’s degree in any of the following subjects:
- Forensic Science
- Any degree that contains at least 24 semester hours in these subjects
If candidates for these positions do not have a master’s degree they may substitute a bachelor’s degree in any of these fields if they have two additional years of experience working in a modern laboratory setting.
As prospective candidates research how to become a crime scene investigator and forensic scientist they will also want to know more about education. There are three large colleges located within the city limits of Newark and over a dozen more within easy commuting distance, all offering useful degrees for candidates interested in pursuing a career in the forensic sciences. There are also several choices for online certification schools and universities.
Specialists working in the Newark forensic science field are some of the busiest employees in their field. For one thing the scale in Newark is much bigger- for example, it deals with several murders every week. Because it is also an economic and commercial center the city experiences crimes that other locations do not see. Residents can also never forget that one of the hijacked planes in the September 11th attacks took off from Newark International Airport. Careers in this field can be extremely challenging but often provide a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson, New Jersey residents can rest assured knowing that the city’s forensic experts work 24 hours a day to collect solid evidence which is then meticulously examined in a lab. However a recent case brought the importance of those working in forensic science jobs to light: the resolution of an unsolved disappearance from 1972 involving the identification of remains discovered in 2000 near Bass River.
Through the use of the latest DNA analysis technology, forensic lab scientists were able to identify the remains as being from a missing Patterson boy who was thought to have been the victim of a serial killer responsible for the sexual assault and murder of at least 33 boys.
Forensic science jobs in Paterson can be found with three primary law enforcement agencies:
- Paterson Police Department
- Passaic County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit
- New Jersey State Police Investigations Branch
Education for the Future
When considering where to pursue forensic science degree and certification programs, candidates in Paterson can choose from over a dozen colleges located in the surrounding vicinity and one state college within the city limits. There are also several programs open to Paterson residents through online schools.
Forensic laboratory scientist and CSI jobs in Paterson require qualified applicants to fill their ranks due to the nature of the work. Municipal law enforcement agencies provide special training for their experienced CSI units, while non-sworn personnel are hired for the variety of expertise they provide in CSI units, such as crime scene reconstruction, photography, and print analysis. These specialists can increase their credentials with certification in fields such as:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Blood Splatter Analysis
- Footwear and Impressions
- Forensic Art
Forensic laboratory scientists in Paterson require a high level of education to qualify for positions in this field, particular to their area of specialization. For example, a forensic toxicologist is required to have a bachelor’s degree in any of the following plus two years of experience in a professional laboratory setting:
- Biological Sciences
- Physical Sciences
Forensic scientists can also qualify with the same education-experience history, though their range of study includes any forensic science field which contains at least 24 science semester hour credits, such as:
- Forensic Science
Forensic scientists, including toxicologists, may also substitute one year of lab experience with a master’s degree in a relevant area of study.
Forensic First in Patterson Shooting Murder Case
Those interested in learning how to become a crime scene investigator or forensic scientist in Paterson will find it interesting to learn that forensic science helped break a tragic murder case that took place in the city in 1997, when a man and youth were gunned down in cold blood. Forensic laboratory scientists used a then-new state-of-the-art bullet analysis method and database, known as IBIS (Integrated Ballistics Identification System), to secure the first conviction in U.S. history based on database-generated bullet forensics.
The IBIS system was able to essentially take the gun’s “fingerprint” that was imprinted on bullets and connect the two murders in Paterson to a separate shooting that occurred in a different state. The IBIS system is still in use today, and forensic investigators have had over 350 cases in one county where the system provided the sole direction for the course of a shooting investigation.