Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in North Dakota

According to the attorney general of North Dakota, there was a 7.9 percent increase in the incidence of crime in the state from 2011 to 2012. This also represents an increase in violent crimes of 7.2 percent during the period. Law enforcement agents know that one of the best ways to reduce further incidences of crime is to catch criminals before they can strike again. Crime scene investigators are instrumental in putting the bad guys behind bars. Crime scene investigators work the scene of the crime, looking for evidence and clues that can build an effective case.

North Dakota’s law enforcement agencies are the main employers for qualified CSI officers. The duties of a CSI officer include: crime scene evidence cataloging, digital photography of crime scene evidence, drawing of crime suspects’ sketches, interviewing witnesses, and even assisting in identification and other processes in the morgue. For this reason CSI officers must have a diverse and varied skill set, ranging from being personable, to being a strict analytical thinker.

CSI agents may be called to work under very difficult conditions, for example, in the mountains of North Dakota if a homicide or other crime has been committed there. Also, in the case of a gory scene, CSI agents will have to maintain their mental poise as they objectively process the crime scene. This can be especially difficult if children are involved, but the job must be done.

Some agencies in North Dakota that employ CSI agents include:

  • Burlington Police Department
    • Investigations Department
  • Lamoure Police Department
    • Investigations
  • Wishek Police Department
    • Investigative unit
  • North Dakota Highway Patrol
    • CSI unit

There are several approaches to training for a career working as a CSI officer in North Dakota. Obtaining a degree, working as an officer, and finally being certified are among the common options many entry level CSI professionals take to get a foot in the door.

The University Degree Path to a CSI Position in North Dakota

Earning a degree is one way in which many people begin their path to getting a job in the field of CSI. But not all degrees are created equal. Degrees in sciences are definitely preferred, as they tend to train the applicant in analytical thinking, as well as give them a firm base in many of the scientific and technological aspects of any eventual CSI job.

Some degrees which may be highly considered by CSI employers include:

  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Forensic sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.)
  • Forensic anthropology

In addition to science related degrees, a degree in criminal justice may also be of help. However, as CSI is largely a forensic based profession, forensic related degrees are preferred.

The Law enforcement Path to a CSI Position in North Dakota

Another way people enter in the field of CSI in North Dakota is to first enter directly into law enforcement.  This is because first becoming a police officer helps the applicant to acclimate themselves to police culture, and also helps them develop police training and skills. Law enforcement skills refer to crime scene photography, mastery of evidence management rules, patrol procedures, and even basic investigation and interrogation techniques.

Becoming a police officer is an attractive option, but there are a couple of notes which must be considered. The first is that many police departments in North Dakota will still require the CSI applicant to have a degree if they wish to be hired as a CSI, even if they have the relevant police experience. The second is that qualifying to become a police officer is not always a simple task. For example, to become a member of the North Dakota Highway Patrol one must:

  • Submit the application
  • Pass written tests
  • Pass an oral interview and written personality test
  • Pass a physical, psychological check, physical aptitude test
  • Pass a background check which includes:
    • Criminal record check
    • Check on background of anti-social behavior
    • Check for poor work record

The Certification Path to a CSI Position in North Dakota

One additional way many people prepare for a career in CSI in North Carolina is to become certified. The nation’s premiere CSI certification body, the International Association for Identification, provides certification in many aspects of CSI, including biometrics, forensic podiatry, and fingerprints. Getting certified in these areas is a great way to increase the chances of landing a job because it shows that the applicant is serious about becoming CSI professional.  Also, the website list job openings, which may be of use to those currently in the job market.

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