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Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in North Carolina

Crime statistics show that in the year 2008 alone, 416,060 violent crimes were reported in North Carolina. These figures included at least 604 murders, prompting the heightening of security measures in and around the state. Even though capital punishment is applied in North Carolina, the state realizes that one of the best ways to prevent violent crime is to quickly get offenders off the street. This has resulted in an intensification of the training of CSI officers, to help deal with the unacceptable levels of crime.

Taking into consideration the sometimes high crime levels in the state, law enforcement agencies, such as North Carolina’s state Bureau of Investigations, are employing qualified and experienced CSI officers to help in collection of evidence required to bring closure to unsolved crimes and other active cases.

Though every state agency can usually set their own requirements for the CSI professionals they choose to hire, there are certain general recommendations that significantly increase the chances of entering this very exciting career field. These include:

  • Earning a degree
  • Becoming a police officer
  • Getting certified in CSI related coursework

The payoff could be a dream CSI related job with such North Carolina agencies as:

  • North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation
    • Intelligence Unit
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
    • Investigative Services
  • Raleigh Police
    • Detective Unit
  • North Carolina Highway Patrol
    • Investigations Unit

Earning a Relevant CSI Degree in North Carolina

Almost all successful CSI professionals working in different departments In North Carolina hold a bachelor’s degree in fields relevant to their individual specialty.  Earning a degree is not only a way to earn the knowledge needed to successfully complete the tasks of the job; a degree also serves to provide the much needed emphasis on interdisciplinary courses such as molecular biology and criminal justice, which are preferred in this line of work.

Examples of the degree programs offered in North Carolina that are relevant to crime scene investigation include:

  • Forensic science
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Anthropology
  • Chemistry

Importance of Law Enforcement Experience to CSI training in North Carolina

Prior experience working as a law enforcement officer in North Carolina serves as an added advantage while preparing for a career as a crime scene investigator.  Many people who wish to enter the CSI field simply enroll into police academy, looking to work their way up. This kind of approach has the advantage of allowing the applicant to be on the “inside” and learn all about police life. The disadvantage is that, lacking a relevant degree, being an outstanding police officer may not be enough to land a coveted CSI position. With an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, well over the national average, North Carolinians can expect a tough job market.

Additionally, in order to become a police officer, one must meet all requirements. This may be no easy task. For example, to qualify for the North Carolina Highway Patrol one must (among other requirements):

  • Be between 21 and 39
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be physically fit
  • Pass a written exam
  • Pass a background test
  • Have 20/20 vision in each eye, or vision corrected to 20/20

Certification of CSI officers in North Carolina

Getting certified in CSI related coursework is another way to show an employer that one is serious about being a crime scene investigator.  The country’s premiere CSI certification organization, the International Association for Identification has a North Carolina chapter. Applicants in North Carolina who are certified are considered by employers to be serious applicants who are interested in law enforcement, solving crimes, and most importantly developing a successful CSI career.  There are several certification options within North Carolina’s division of the international Association of Identification, all of which should be carefully considered by anyone serious about a career in crime scene investigations.


Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in North Carolina

North Carolina’s Department of Commerce estimates a rapid growth in forensic science technician positions in the state.  They project that the number of these jobs will increase by 25.5% over the period from 2010 to 2020.  Sixty-six percent of these jobs are projected to come from people leaving the workforce, with the remaining third are expected to be due to the creation of new positions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that North Carolina had 440 forensic science technicians employed in 2012.  The salaries of these employees from that year are listed below:

North Carolina City
Average Annual Salary
North Carolina-statewide
$45480
Charlotte
$46700
Raleigh
$44580

A number of forensic positions were advertised in the state that paid from $41,667 to $68,177 a year.  They are listed below:

  • Forensic scientist I – digital evidence
  • Forensic scientist I – drug chemistry
  • Forensic scientist I – forensic biology
  • Forensic scientist I – latent evidence

In addition to working as technicians in a lab, some forensic scientists specialize in processing evidence at crime scenes.  These crime scene investigators (CSIs) can be either sworn officers or civilians, depending on the agency.

The salary of a CSI can vary greatly, depending on the level of education and expertise of the individual.  One such crime scene investigator position as an evidence technician in Buncombe County paid from $33,190 to $52,063 a year in 2013.

Information on the annual and hourly wage percentiles of forensic science technicians in various parts of the state is provided by the BLS.  It is shown in the following table:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC
160
46700
Raleigh-Cary NC
100
44580
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC
80
54070

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Charlotte, North Carolina

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 160 forensic science technicians were employed in the Charlotte area in 2012.  This field is rapidly growing in North Carolina with 25.5% growth projected from 2010-2020 according to the state’s Department of Commerce.

The primary source of forensic science and CSI jobs in Charlotte is with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.  This agency has both a crime lab and a unit specializing in searching crime scenes.

CSIs with the crime scene search unit document the site and collect evidence for further analysis at the crime lab.  They also assist the District Attorney’s office with the preparation of cases and the Medical Examiner’s Office at the scenes of major disasters.

The crime lab has a number of sections that provide forensic services to state, municipal, and federal agencies in Mecklenburg County.  They include:

  • Questioned documents
  • Biology
    • Serology
    • DNA
  • Latent prints
  • Firearms
    • Firearms analysis
    • Impression analysis of footwear and tire tracks
  • Chemistry
    • Illicit drugs
    • Fire debris for arson cases
    • Blood alcohol analysis

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Charlotte

To get a job as a forensic scientist with the crime lab or the crime scene search unit typically requires a bachelor’s degree.  Residents of Charlotte can learn how to become a crime scene investigator by getting a degree in criminal justice, biology, or forensic science.  The department prefers that applicants have experience in one of the following areas:

  • Crime scene collection
  • Medical examiner’s office
  • Police work

Prospective scientists for the crime lab need a degree in a hard science such as forensics, chemistry, or biology.  To work in the lab as an investigative technician, the minimum requirement is to have a high school education.  The department prefers to hire applicants who have had college level coursework in criminal justice, forensic science, or a related field.

Forensic Science and CSI Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Charlotte

Prospective students who want to obtain a degree in the forensic sciences can do so at a state school outside of Charlotte.  Individuals seeking CSI training with a criminal justice degree have a number of options from colleges located in Charlotte and from online schools that offer this type of training.

Obtaining a criminal justice degree will satisfy the educational requirement to become a CSI in Charlotte.  The following types of criminal justice degrees can be obtained in this city:

  • Certificate in latent evidence
  • Associate’s degree in criminal justice technology
  • Associate’s degree in criminal justice
  • Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice
  • Bachelor’s degree in criminology
  • Master’s in criminal justice

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Greensboro, North Carolina

The number of forensic science technician jobs is expected to grow rapidly in North Carolina over the next several years.  In the period between 2010 and 2020, the number of jobs for these professionals is projected to increase by 25.5% according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

This occupational category includes both forensic scientists who work in the lab and those who work in the field as crime scene investigators (CSIs).  While both types of positions require a high degree of training in forensics, the career paths that lead to them can be quite different.

Guilford County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit – This unit is part of the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Operations Division.  Crime scene technicians collect physical evidence from crime scenes throughout the county.

Forensic Science and CSI Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Greensboro

Residents of Greensboro have several options for obtaining forensic or criminal justice degrees in this city.  They can obtain a forensic biology B.S. degree that is suitable training to work in a forensics laboratory.  An A.B. in forensic biology is another possible degree to obtain in Greensboro.

Prospective students who with to get a degree in criminal justice to prepare them for CSI work have a choice of colleges.  They can get a B.S. in criminal justice from a local school or they can get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a range of online schools that offer these degrees.

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Greensboro

To become a forensic scientist with the Department of Justice, a bachelor’s degree in some type of science is required.  This can include forensics, biology, chemistry, or physics.  Two years of experience doing bench work in the relevant field is required.

The minimum qualifications to become a crime scene technician for Guilford County are a high school diploma and year of experience as an identification technician.  An equivalent amount of education and experience can substitute for this.  The department prefers applicants who possess an associate’s degree in forensics, chemistry, biology, or anthropology.

A high school degree is the minimum qualification to become a police officer with the Greensboro Police.  Applicants can improve their likelihood of being hired by obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  To join a specialized unit such as the crime scene investigations section, applicants must have achieved the rank of police officer II.  It normally takes three years to achieve this rank.

Forensic Science and CSI Employers Found in Greensboro

There are three different agencies in Greensboro that hire forensic scientists.

State Bureau of Investigations Triad Regional Crime Lab – This facility is part of the North Carolina Department of Justice’s State Crime Laboratory system.  It houses fifteen forensic scientists that analyze fingerprints, drugs, computers, and other evidence for the twelve Triad counties.

Greensboro Police Forensic Services Division – Two sections of this division offer forensic services.  The Crime Scene Investigations section operates round the clock to provide field support in processing crime scenes and some evidence analysis.  The Latent Print section evaluates, stores, and compares all latent fingerprint and palm impressions that the department has recovered.


CSI and Forensic Scientist in Raleigh, North Carolina

One hundred forensic science technicians were employed in the Raleigh area in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Their numbers should increase dramatically in the coming years. The North Carolina Department of Commerce projects a 25.5% increase in the number of forensic science technician positions during the period between 2010 and 2020.

Forensic science technicians include both forensic scientists who work in laboratories and crime scene investigators (CSIs) who process forensic evidence from crime scenes.  The career paths for these specialties can be quite different.

Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Raleigh

North Carolina Department of Justice State Crime Laboratory – The state’s premier crime lab is located in Raleigh and is run by the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI).  This lab will analyze all types of evidence that relate to any criminal investigation by a law enforcement agency in North Carolina.  The jobs in this crime lab are primarily for forensic scientists who work at the bench analyzing evidence.  Areas of specialty include the following:

  • Digital evidence
  • Firearms and tool mark
  • Drug chemistry and toxicology
  • Latent evidence
  • Forensic biology and DNA
  • Trace evidence

Raleigh Police Department – Officers for this agency investigate crime scenes and have received an extensive education in forensic science.

Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification (CCBI) – This Bureau specializes in the identification of fingerprints.  The North Carolina General Assembly created the bureau to be an independent agency supporting the criminal justice system of Wake County.  Two divisions provide forensic work for the county.  The Investigations Division responds to requests to investigate crime scenes, while the Crime Laboratory Division analyzes a number of different types of forensic evidence.

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Raleigh

The requirements to become a crime scene investigator in Raleigh vary depending on whether the goal is to become a forensic scientist in a lab or a CSI in the field.  The basic requirements for joining the Raleigh Police Department and become a CSI is to be at least 21 years old when sworn into the position.  Frequently applicants for law enforcement positions increase their chances of being hired by obtaining a criminal justice degree.

CCBI Agents are required to have an associate’s degree in criminal justice, forensic science, or a related field to be able to work as crime scene investigators.  To learn how to become a forensic scientist for the DOJ, individuals generally obtain a bachelor’s degree in a science such as forensics, biology, or chemistry.

Forensic Science and CSI Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Raleigh

Schools in other locations in North Carolina offer the option of obtaining a forensic science degree.  In Raleigh, residents have a number of choices to learn how to become a crime scene investigator.

There are two colleges located in Raleigh that offer criminal justice training.  Prospective students can obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminology or a minor in crime and justice.  Graduates have gone on to work for the SBI and the Raleigh PD.

Another option is to obtain an associate’s degree in criminal justice technology or latent evidence at a local school.  This provides hands on training in CSI techniques.  An additional choice is to take advantage of one of the many online schools that offer degrees in criminal justice.  These programs satisfy the educational requirements to become a CCBI agent.

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