Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Connecticut

There isn’t much crime in Connecticut; according to the 2006 U.S. Census Connecticut ranks 37th among the U.S. states in violent crimes per 100,000 people. Nonetheless, there are 80 crime scene investigators (CSIs) employed in the state, 30 of whom are working in Hartford, and a predicted 19 percent job growth rate projected through 2020.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual mean wage of CSIs in Connecticut is $65,200 and somewhat lower ($59,000) in the city of Bridgeport.

Persons who love both science and solving mysteries might find the job of crime scene investigator ideal. Although not as glamorous as portrayed on TV, the work of a CSI is critically important, both for putting bad guys away and for proving the innocence of those falsely accused. CSIs carefully collect and analyze evidence at a crime scene. The entire scene is photographed to preserve how it was before anything has been touched or removed. Some employers have both a CSI who collects and analyzes evidence and a forensic photographer who takes pictures of all kinds of evidence, from blood splatters to the smallest scratches on the body of a victim. Photographs that accompany verbal descriptions of a crime make the case more real for a jury.

Crime scene investigators bag and tag all manner of evidence, including latent evidence, which consists of things not easily visible to the naked eye, like fingerprints or chemicals. They prepare forms, reports and other documents and often orally present their findings to a jury.

Requirements for Becoming a CSI in Connecticut

The requirements that must be met to get an entry-level job as a crime scene investigator in the city of Bridgeport vary somewhat with the employer and the particular position; however, the following are pretty general:

  • College Degree. Although some low-level jobs can be secured with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry or another physical science offers the best chance of success. There are at least three schools in Connecticut with degree programs in crime scene investigation.
  • Knowledge of photography
  • Ability to use sophisticated lab equipment
  • Computer proficiency
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of forensic basics like lifting fingerprints
  • Good health
  • Physically fit – CSIs are required to kneel, bend, reach, climb and carry heavy objects.
  • Mentally stable – CSIs must be able to work under pressure and to deal calmly with disturbing and often gruesome crime scenes.

Most new employees are given extensive on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced crime scene investigator.

Crime Scene Investigation Certification and Specialization

A crime scene investigator’s career can be bolstered by continuing education, training and certification. The International Association of Identification (IAI), the world’s oldest and largest forensic association, offers CSI certification to individuals who have spent at least one year working full-time investigating crime scenes and who have taken a minimum of 48 hours of board approved courses within the last five years.

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There is a $200 testing fee for an initial certification. The IAI also offers the following specialized certification programs:

  • Latent Print
  • Bloodstain Pattern Analyst
  • Forensic photography
  • Forensic Art
  • Forensic Video
  • Tenprint Fingerprint

In addition, working CSIs desiring to specialize in firearms/ballistics can complete a five-day training program in “Toolmark Identification and Comparison” offered by the National Firearms Examiner Academy, a division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Connecticut

The field of forensics is growing in Connecticut.  Its Department of Labor estimated that the number of jobs for forensic scientists will increase 16.9% between 2010 and 2020.  The pay level has been increasing yearly, too, with an increase of 21.6% from 2004 to 2012.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slightly over one third of the forensic science technicians in the state worked in the Hartford area.  The eighty forensic science technicians employed in Connecticut in 2012 had an annual median salary of $68,140.  Experienced professionals in the top tenth percent of their wage bracket earned an average of $88,840 a year.

Forensic scientists working for the State of Connecticut received the following salaries in 2013:

  • Connecticut careers trainee:  $42,194 – $48,279
  • Forensic sciences examiner I:  $60,735 – $82,234
  • Forensic sciences examiner III:  $73,528 – $98,920

In addition to the forensic scientists who work as lab technicians, a number of people in this field work in the area of crime scene investigation.  They document the scenes and collect physical evidence from the sites.

Crime scene investigator (CSI) jobs vary from those of highly experienced police detectives with forensic training to civilian positions that employ people with an education in forensics or criminal justice.

There are a number of specialized jobs for CSIs, including criminalists and latent fingerprint examiners. The pay for criminalists in Connecticut typically increases by 22% after having ten years of experience.  Salary data is available for crime scene technician positions in Waterbury.  These jobs pay from $37,270 to $50,718 a year based on information available in 2013.

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Bridgeport, Connecticut

According to Connecticut Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), although the overall crime rate in Bridgeport, Connecticut has decreased by two percent since the 1990s, the rate of property crime in Bridgeport is higher than the Connecticut state average. Additionally, the rate of violent crime in Bridgeport beats the average violent crime rate in Connecticut overall.

The UCR for 2012 reports that the most common crime in Bridgeport that year was larceny, followed by burglary, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, arson and murder. In many cases, crime scene investigators were called to the scene while the forensic science professionals back at the lab process and analyze the evidence that the CSIs collect.

Degree Options in Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigations

Degree requirements for forensic science and CSI jobs in Bridgeport vary with the level, complexity and experience necessary for the jobs. In Bridgeport, options for education in crime scene investigation and forensic science include:

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice – This degree can be an entry into the field of crime scene investigation, and a good way to start a career in CSI in Bridgeport. Classes within this program may include:
    • Criminology
    • Criminal law
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Evidence and Criminal Procedure
    • Writing and Research for Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Taken with the right specialized courses in criminal investigation and forensics, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can help job seekers in Bridgeport who are looking to enter the CSI and forensic science field. Classes may include:
    • Organized Crime
    • Investigative Techniques
    • Social Control and Deviance
    • Crime and Media
    • Forensic Issues in Law Enforcement
    • Special Topics in Criminal Justice

Top Forensic Science and CSI Employers in Bridgeport

Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection – Division of Scientific Services- Forensic Science Laboratory – This laboratory is located in Middletown, about 40 miles from Bridgeport. It completes all forensic examinations requested by the State of Connecticut. Included within this division are:

  • Identification Unit:
    • Latent Prints
    • Imprints and Impressions
    • Firearms and Toolmarks
    • Questioned Documents and Special Revenue
    • Photography and Imaging
    • Color Processing
  • Criminalistics Unit:
    • Trace Evidence
    • Nuclear DNA
    • Arson/Chemistry
    • Mitochondrial DNA
    • Database DNA (Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS)
    • Forensic Biology

PerkinElmer – Located in Shelton, about  10 miles from Bridgeport, this is a privately owned technology company that works in both human and environmental services, and runs laboratories that  provide services including forensics. Jobs for Application Scientists, which require a bachelor’s degree in one of the natural sciences or forensic science, may be available here from time to time.

CSI and Forensic Scientist in New Haven, Connecticut

The New Haven Independent maintains a Daily Crime Log online and in the newspaper. This log details the types and numbers of crimes committed in the city each day, and compiles totals at the end of each month. This type of data is interesting to researchers and students who wish to become crime scene investigators, or CSIs, in New Haven. Forensic science students would also be attracted by this kind of information, as it may give them an idea of the demand for CSI and forensic science jobs in New Haven.

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For the month of September 2013, the Independent reports that the following types of crimes were the most reported in New Haven:

  • Simple assault
  • Family dispute
  • Motor vehicle violations
  • Suspicious persons
  • Supplementary investigations

The types of crimes that CSIs may be called upon to investigate in New Haven included, by total:

  • Wanted person- other town – 72
  • Criminal trespass – 52
  • Possession of narcotics – 49
  • Threatening – 44
  • Missing adult – 19
  • Bomb scare – 2
  • Kidnapping – 1
  • Sudden death – 1

Educational Options in Forensic Science and CSI in New Haven

The University of New Haven has two world-renowned departments, one in forensic science and one in criminal law. Therefore, there is a wide variety of forensic science and crime scene investigation degree programs offered in New Haven, such as:

    • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science – this program is available with either a biology or a chemistry concentration. Classes include:
      • Criminal law
      • Forensic biology
      • Criminalistics
      • Crime scene investigation
      • Chemistry
      • Instrumental methods
      • Computers and Applications
    • Master of Science in Forensic Science – This advanced program gives students a choice between three concentrations:
      • Criminalistics
        • Physical analysis
        • Forensic expert testimony
        • Forensic DNA analysis
        • Advanced crime scene investigation
      • Advanced Investigation
        • Advanced crime scene investigation
        • Medicolegal investigation and identification
        • Criminal procedure
        • Law and Evidence
        • Network security, data protection
      • Fire Science
        • Chemistry of fire and explosives
        • Fire scene investigation and arson analysis
        • Law and evidence
        • Criminalistics
        • Fire scene reconstruction
        • Fire and building codes, practices and standards

Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in New Haven

University of New Haven Department of Forensic Science – This university department (titled the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science) offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science (see above). Job opportunities may be available for properly trained CSI and forensic science professionals, such as:

  • Assistant Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Lecturer
  • Professor

Hamden Police Department Detective Bureau, Crime Scene Unit – Detectives within the Hamden Police Department (about five miles from New Haven) may be specially trained in crime scene investigation techniques and practices. Jobs in the CSI and forensic science fields that may be available here include:

  • Sergeant, Crime Scene Unit
  • Detective, Crime Scene Unit
  • Fingerprint examiner
  • CSU photographer

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Stamford, Connecticut

Although the city of Stamford, Connecticut has been ranked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as one of the safest cities in the United States, it is not totally without crime. The Stamford Police Department uses CrimeView software and geological mapping of crimes occurring within the city in its analyses of those crimes. It publishes these interactive maps online, and also uses them to help to reduce crime in the city.

Forensic laboratory scientists and crime scene investigation technicians in Stamford can assist in these efforts. Their jobs involve not only collecting and analyzing evidence at crime scenes but, in the long run, contributing to the overall effort of local law enforcement to reduce the crime rates in Stamford.

Degrees in Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigations

In Stamford, degree options related to forensic science and crime scene investigation include courses, certificate programs and degree programs, such as:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminology – the curriculum includes:
    • Criminal procedure and the courts
    • Law enforcement and society
    • Criminology
    • Moral issues
    • Statistics
    • Research methods in criminal justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science and Technology – the curriculum includes:
    • DNA analysis
    • DNA gene sequencing
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Criminal justice
    • Legal studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Studies – The curriculum includes:
    • Criminal law and evidence
    • Introduction to criminal justice
    • Criminal procedure
    • Criminal and civil investigation
    • Fire investigation
    • Cyber privacy and forensic

Types of CSI and Forensic Science Found Jobs in Stamford

CSI and forensic science jobs in Stamford may go by the following monikers:

  • Latent print examiner
  • Crime scene technician
  • Crime scene investigator (CSI)
  • Detective, Crime Scene Unit (CSU)
  • Digital recovery specialist
  • Digital evidence technician
  • Firearms and toolmarks examiner
  • Video evidence technician

Organizations Supporting Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Stamford

  • Immucor/Lifecodes – Located in Stamford, this laboratory provides contracted forensic services to individuals, law enforcement professionals and others. Genotyping and DNA analysis are just two of the forensic specialties offered here.
  • Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes and Electronic Evidence Unit – This unit of the Connecticut State Police, working statewide, investigates and processes evidence from computer crimes and electronic crimes. Some of the crimes they have worked on recently include impairing the morals of a minor, possession of child pornography and promoting a minor in an obscene performance.
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