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Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Texas

In the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 2010 edition of “Crime in the United States,” Texas had the second highest incidence of violent crimes of any state in the union – just behind California. There were a total of 1,249 murders in Texas in 2010. Property crimes in Texas were also the second highest in the nation, at 951,246. Crime scene investigators are necessary to investigate these and other types of crimes occurring throughout the state. It is their responsibility to gather evidence and process it correctly so that it can be used in criminal court cases. CSI jobs require specialized training and, in some cases, a college degree.

Titles of CSI jobs found in Texas include:

  • Forensic Technician
  • Property Crime Technician
  • Forensic Investigator
  • Detective
  • Supervisor of Detectives

Crime Scene Investigation Education in Texas

The type and duration of education for aspiring crime scene investigators in Texas varies depending upon the student’s projected career track. For technical and patrol/investigative positions, often licensure as a Texas Peace Officer is required. A certificate or associate degree from a college or university might also be necessary. Investigatory and supervisory positions usually require at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal investigation or a related field. If a college or university in Texas has accreditation by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, this is an added bonus. Some employers of crime scene investigators in Texas prefer to hire graduates of FEPAC-accredited institutions.

Crime Scene Investigation Certificate, Licenses and Associate Degrees in Texas

Some crime scene investigation jobs require at least a certificate, licensure as a Peace Officer in Texas, or an associate’s degree in a crime scene or forensic-related field. In Texas, these types of jobs include:

  • Property Crime Technician
  • College/University Police Officer/Investigator
  • Police Officer
  • Medical Examiner’s Office Investigator

Schools throughout the state of Texas offer these types of certificates and associate degree programs for students interested in a career in crime scene investigation:

  • Certificate in Computer Forensics
  • Texas Peace Officer Licensure
  • Certificate in Forensics
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Science
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Investigation

Crime Scene Investigation Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in Texas

Types of CSI jobs in Texas requiring at minimum a bachelor’s degree include:

  • Forensic Investigator
  • Forensic Investigations Supervisor
  • Senior Investigator

Texas schools offer many bachelors and higher degrees in areas of crime scene investigation, including:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science-Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry
  • Master of Forensic Science
  • Master of Forensic Genetics
  • Master of Forensic Psychology

CSI Professional Organizations in Texas

Crime scene investigators and forensic professionals working in Texas might consider joining one of the following professional organizations, which provide networking and training opportunities to Texas CSIs:

  • Texas Forensic Science Commission – This advocacy group promotes the use of forensic science in criminal investigations throughout Texas. It recommends changes to legislation, investigates professional misconduct in the field, and promotes training and professional standards.
  • Texas Forensic Associates – This professional consortium brings together many types of crime scene investigation experts in Texas to provide forensic training, consultation and education.

CSI Employers in Texas

  • Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory – The main crime laboratory in Texas, located in Austin, assists federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in crime scene investigation across the state. The lab is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) and currently employs 279 forensic scientists and 83 support personnel, including crime scene investigators and evidence technicians.
  • Texas Rangers – This group of law enforcement personnel headquartered in Austin has criminal investigative responsibility for major crimes, unsolved or serial crimes, and other types of major incidents occurring within Texas. Its Unsolved Crime Investigation and Forensic Artist units are just two of the specialized groups within this organization that may offer CSI employment opportunities.
  • City of Garland, Texas Forensic Investigations Unit – The Forensic Investigations Unit of the Garland Police Department processes and investigates information from crime scenes occurring within the city’ jurisdiction. It currently employs one Forensic Investigations Supervisor and seven Forensic Investigators.
  • Texas Forensic Investigative Consultants, Inc. – This privately owned organization is a crime scene consulting business. They assist law enforcement and other clients in crime scene collection, processing, consulting, reconstruction, and investigation.
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Field Offices in Texas – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms helps to investigate federal or major crimes occurring in Texas. Recently, in April 2013, they assisted in the investigation of an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West. Texas ATF offices are located in Houston, Beaumont, Austin, Brownsville, Laredo, Corpus Christi, McAllen, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth, El Paso, Tyler and Lubbock.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Texas

Texas is a very promising state for finding employment as a forensic science technician.  It had the third highest level of employment of any state in the country in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  In particular, the Houston area had the ninth highest level of employment of any metropolitan area in the U.S.

The Texas Workforce Commission projects the rate of job growth to be 31.2% in the period from 2010 than 2020.  This is a much higher rate of growth than in most states.  In others states, the positions available for forensic science technicians are generally due to the replacement of scientists who have left the workforce.  In Texas, 44% of the new positions projected to become available each year are due to the creation of new jobs.

The BLS indicated that the average salary of a forensic science technician in Texas was $46,100 a year in 2012.  Those in the top tenth of their field earned $69,550.  They also provide salary information for a number of metropolitan areas in Texas.  The data for selected cities are shown below:

Texas City
Average Annual Salary
Austin
$41050
Dallas-Fort Worth
$47520
Houston
$49950
San Antonio
$46710

These figures are for both lab technicians and scientists who work in the field processing crime scenes.  2013 salary information is available for some of these specific positions.

Forensic Lab Technician Salaries in Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety employs a number of forensic scientists.  Level I to III forensic scientist positions paid from $41,416 to $75,517 a year in 2013.  These scientists specialize in particular types of forensic science.  Positions were available for those with expertise in firearms, forensic breath alcohol, and firearms.  In Houston, a crime lab criminalist made from $33,358 to $68,900 annually in 2013.

Crime Scene Investigator Salaries in Texas

Those who process crime scenes can be either civilians or enlisted personnel.  A number of the positions in Texas that were available in 2013 were for civilian technicians.  They received the following salaries (based on a forty hour work week).

Texas City
CSI Position
Austin
Property Crime Technician
Dallas
Crime Scene Technician
Pflugerville
Crime Scene/Evidence Technician

The BLS provides a detailed analysis of hourly and annual wage percentiles for forensic scientists throughout Texas as shown in the following table:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos TX
170
41050
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX
290
49850
Dallas-Plano-Irving TX Metropolitan Division
180
47520
Fort Worth-Arlington TX Metropolitan Division
120
53400
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown TX
230
49950
San Antonio-New Braunfels TX
100
46710

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