Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Washington

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs released the 2012 Crime in Washington Annual Report, detailing crimes occurring in the state during that year. In 2012, the report says there was one crime against property reported/committed every 2.1 minutes, one crime against society every 20.2 minutes, and one crime against persons every 9.3 minutes.

It is the job of crime scene investigators in Washington to go to crime scenes to collect evidence, ranging from fingerprints to blood samples to footprints to other trace and physical evidence. These types of jobs require specialized education and training. Luckily for students interested in CSI jobs in Washington, training for this discipline is available in the state.

Titles of CSI jobs in Washington include:

  • Police officer
  • Detective
  • Investigator
  • Evidence technician
  • Forensic case manager

Crime Scene Investigator Education in Washington

Washington crime scene investigator employers are looking for individuals who have the right combination of education and experience to fill CSI jobs. Getting a certificate or degree in a CSI-related field is the first step towards becoming a crime scene investigator in Washington.

Crime Scene Investigation Certificates and Associate Degrees in Washington

The following certificates and associate degree programs in crime scene investigation may be found in Washington and online:

  • Associate of Science in Criminology and Forensic Technology
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Technology
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Science

CSI Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in Washington

The following four-year undergraduate and graduate degrees in CSI are in Washington and online:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensics
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Crime Scene Investigation

These degrees may help when applying for the following CSI job titles in Washington:

  • Forensic analyst
  • Forensic investigator
  • Forensic case manager
  • Adjunct faculty – forensic psychology
  • Detective/investigator

Professional Training for Crime Scene Investigators in Washington

Crime scene investigators in Washington often require specialized training and/or continuing education to keep or advance in their jobs. Organizations throughout the state that provide such training opportunities include:

Law Enforcement Organizations Supporting CSI Jobs in Washington

  • Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team – This team represents a partnership between the Criminal Investigation Division and the Crime Laboratory Division of the Washington State Patrol. Based in Olympia, the team helps local law enforcement agencies in gathering and processing crime scene evidence. Divisions of the Crime Scene Response Team include:
    • Criminal Investigation Division
    • Lateral Fingerprint Identification
    • Crime Laboratory Division
  • Seattle Police Department – The city’s police department has a CSI team working with Homicide Investigators on major crimes occurring in the city. The CSI unit is responsible for processing evidence found at the crime scenes.
  • City of Bellevue Police Department – The Investigations Division of this city police department includes detectives who act as crime scene investigators. The crime rate in Bellevue is so low that it was recently cited the safest city in the Northwest, according to the Bellevue Police Department website.
  • City of Auburn Police Department – The Investigations Division of Auburn’s police department includes crime scene investigators who are called to all major crime scenes throughout the city. Currently, the department consists of 16 detectives and 3 sergeants.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Washington

Washington State’s Employment Security Department projects that there will be an average of ten new jobs available a year for forensic science technicians in the period from 2016 to 2021.  Federal information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that 200 such professionals were employed in Washington state in 2012. 

Salary data for these scientists is given below:

Washington City
Median Salary
Washington-statewide
$54700
Seattle metropolitan area
$62260

A major employer for forensic scientists in the state is the Washington State Patrol Forensic Lab Services.  It has labs throughout the state with multi-service crime labs being located in the following cities:

  • Marysville
  • Seattle
  • Spokane
  • Tacoma
  • Vancouver

Additional limited service labs are found in these cities:

  • Kennewick
  • Tumwater

Some forensic scientists specialize in processing crime scenes for evidence and documenting the details of the site.  Some crime scene investigators (CSIs) are sworn officers, while others are civilians.  Crime scene investigator salaries vary greatly depending on experience.

The 2013 salary range of a crime scene technician for the state was from $31,176 to $40,524.  The first level of the state’s forensic scientist category processes crime scenes as well.  The 2011 salaries for two of these individuals were $45,596 and $43,515 a year.

Many forensic scientists spend all of their time analyzing evidence in a lab.  The state employs five categories of forensic scientists with those in the highest category making up to $80,473 a year in 2011.

The BLS provides salary breakdowns for forensic science technicians as a whole who worked in selected areas of Washington in 2012.  This data is shown below:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
140
60810
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
70
62770
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA
Estimate not released
64610

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