Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Kentucky

Processing crime scenes needs to be done meticulously and with expertise. This is exactly what crime scene investigators do in Kentucky, ensuring that the guilty and innocent both face appropriate justice and bringing closure to the family and friends of violent crimes.

By no means do CSIs have easy jobs; work is often carried out in highly unpleasant circumstances and involves careful examination of brutal, emotionally difficult scenarios. However Kentucky law enforcement agencies hire candidates who possess the most competitive CSI training, education, and certification to ensure jobs in the field go to those who are the most qualified to carry out their duties.

Crime scene investigators in Kentucky work closely with the following agencies:

  • Louisville Metro Police Department
  • Lexington-Fayette Urban County Division of Police
  • Bowling Green Police Department
  • Owensboro Police Department
  • Covington Police Department
  • Kentucky State Police

CSI Training and Schools in Kentucky

One of the most important things candidates can do to prepare themselves for a CSI career in Kentucky is to research their preferred agency’s certification and education standards, some of which may include CSI certification in areas such as:

  • Bloodstain pattern analysis
  • Forensic Photography
  • Forensic Art
  • Ballistics
  • Latent fingerprint analysis

Many CSI jobs also require applicants to have an appropriate degree from colleges and universities located throughout the state as well as online. Two year degrees can help to get a candidate’s foot in the door of a CSI agency and will provide a solid general level of understanding in the field.

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Studying for a bachelor certificate is recommended for candidates who see themselves as long-term CSI employees, as these will provide a greater degree of career mobility and opportunities. Common areas of study include:

  • Forensics Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Kentucky CSI Jobs

The Kentucky State Police is one of the largest and most diverse employers of crime scene investigators in the state.  Because of the breadth of specialization the agency provides, CSIs have differing areas of field expertise, with positions including:

  • Forensic Anthropologist: Requires a doctoral degree in physical anthropology with a specialty in forensic anthropology
  • Forensic Artist: Requires a bachelor’s degree and three years of related experience
  • Forensic Biologist: Requires a bachelor’s degree in any of the following:
    • Molecular biology
    • Recombinant genetics
    • Microbiology
    • Biology
    • Medical technology
    • Biochemistry
    • Forensic science with an emphasis in biology
  • Forensic Chemist: Requires a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or forensic science with an emphasis in chemistry
  • Latent Fingerprint Analyst: Requires at least a bachelor’s degree and two years of forensic fingerprint experience
  • Forensic Photographer: Requires three years of field experience and one year of forensic experience
  • Firearms and Toolmark Examiner: Requires a bachelor’s degree in any of the following:
    • Biological, physical, or forensic sciences
    • Criminal justice
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering

Similar requirements exist for CSI specialists employed throughout the many law enforcement agencies of the Bluegrass State, and the process of how to become a crime scene investigator in Kentucky can begin when candidates meet the education, training, and experience requirements.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Kentucky

Fifty forensic science technicians were employed in Kentucky in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  They earned an annual median wage of $39,930.  Experienced professionals made substantially higher wages.  The average salary of forensic scientists in the top tenth of their profession was $50,420 in 2012.

The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet estimates employment in this field will increase 14.29% in the period from 2010 to 2020.  Jobs for forensic scientists in Kentucky are located all around the state, since the Kentucky State Police has six different forensic labs.  They are located in the following cities:

  • Ashland
  • Cold Springs
  • Frankfort
  • London
  • Louisville
  • Madisonville

In addition to those forensic scientists who work for the state of Kentucky, others are employed by municipal and county law enforcement organizations.

While many forensic scientists work as technicians in the lab, others work in the field.  The latter group is comprised of crime scene investigators (CSIs).  Some CSIs are police officers with special training in forensics, while other positions go to civilians.

The wages of CSIs can vary dramatically, depending on how specialized the technician is and their years of experience.  One typical crime scene investigator job is an evidence technician.  Such a position in Paducah paid from $29,700 to $43,100 in 2013.

The BLS provides salary information on forensic science technician positions throughout the U.S.  For Kentucky, they have provided a detailed breakdown of the 2012 salaries of these professionals in the Evansville area in the following table:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Evansville IN-KY
Estimate not released

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Lexington, Kentucky

The rate of violent crime in Lexington in 2010 was more than 42 percent higher than the national average, and nearly 137 percent higher than the Kentucky state average. It is projected that by the end of 2013 Lexington will have reported more than 1,300 aggravated assaults, over 100 forcible rapes, over 500 robberies, and nearly a dozen murders.

With Lexington’s 305,000 resident, this amount of crime is contrasted against the relatively small population of the jurisdiction.  This has led to an ever-increasing need for highly skilled forensic evidence professionals to help in the fight against violent criminal activity in Lexington. Forensic science lab technicians and crime scene investigators play an important role in this ongoing battle. Though the two careers have much in common, CSI field agents and lab scientists do not always have the same job description or duties.

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Crime scene investigators are more likely to be on the scene of the crime, looking for clues and evidence, and even taking witness statements and doing police sketches. Lab scientists will take the collected evidence, analyze it against known samples, and then draw conclusions.  For example, in late 2013 a man was indicted in Lexington for carjacking an 82-year-old man on New Circle Road, and beating him in the process. The elderly man later died from his injuries. The crime scene investigator would go to the scene of the crime, collect evidence such as hair and other samples, and potentially interview witnesses. The lab scientist would then receive the hair sample, analyze it, and compare it to samples obtained from a suspect, or compare it to a database.

The job of a crime scene investigator can involve being present at heinous crime scenes, and having to persevere with the job while holding emotions in check. Lab technicians may be farther removed from the crime scene, but they too come in contact with evidence of human callousness.

Getting a Degree to Enter the Field of CSI

Those looking to enter the field of CSI in Lexington should check carefully with local colleges and universities for courses of study which may be useful for obtaining the knowledge and skills needed to perform the job. Also, it should be remembered that online based degree programs may offer valuable coursework that cannot be found in Lexington. To have the best chance of landing a CSI position, generally forensic science degrees are preferred, as they are directly related to the job of duties of a forensics expert.

The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission is an organization which is instrumental in ensuring its accredited study programs offer substantive and valuable training. Some coursework which may be helpful in obtaining a CSI job in Lexington include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science in Physics
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
  • Master of Science Degree in Biomedical Forensic Science
  • Master of Science Degree in Criminalistics

As can be seen, those who already have a Bachelor’s degree in a non-science related field, can potentially enter a Master’s program in a science related field, and increase their chances of landing a CSI position.

Careers for Crime Scene Investigators and Forensic Lab Techs

Some of the law enforcement agencies in Lexington that hire crime scene investigators include:

  • The Lexington Division of Police – The Lexington Division of Police is the primary police department in Lexington. This department has several departments, one of which is Investigations.
  • The Fayette County Sherriff’s Office – The Fayette County Sherriff’s Office is tasked with law enforcement, as well as procedures such as process serving and warrants.
  • The Kentucky State Police – This police department has reach across the entire state of Kentucky, including in Lexington. The KPD frequently has special operations underway, such as counter narcotics, which especially require the assistance of dedicated CSI professionals for evidence collection, and lab technicians for verification of substances.

Crime scene investigators and forensic lab scientists go by many titles in Lexington, and may find employment under many titles, including the following:

  • Ballistics expert
  • Forensic anthropologist
  • Crime scene technician
  • Evidence technician
  • Fingerprint expert
  • Lab scientist
  • Expert witness

There are several ways to enter the field of forensic science, and the paths are similar for both the field and lab technicians. One of the best ways to enter the field is to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Another excellent option is to enter directly into the police force.

Join the Lexington Police Force

Though getting a degree is highly recommended, aspirants in Lexington may wish to pursue a career in CSI by going directly to police academy.  Becoming a police officer in order to enter CSI has a different set of requirements than attempting to enter as a CSI agent directly. For example, the Lexington Police Department requires:

  • Applicants be over 21 and under 37 at the time of the application filing deadline
  • Have never been convicted of a felony
  • Have not been fired or forced to resign within 12 months of filing the application
  • The applicant not to have tattoos, brands, or body piercings which are visible in uniform
  • The applicant pass a written test
  • The applicant pass a physical

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Louisville, Kentucky

The rate of crime in Louisville is growing faster than the national average. The rate of violent crime in the greater metropolitan Louisville area rose 19 percent between 2011 and 2012 while the national rate over the same period rose only 2.5%. Violent crime is defined in Louisville, as well as on the federal level, as acts perpetrated by one or more persons upon one or more other persons involving murder, rape, assault, robbery, or any combination thereof.

The law enforcement community in Louisville is charged with the task of preventing crime from occurring to the extent possible using available resources as well as prosecuting the individuals who perpetrate crimes. This ongoing battle against criminal activity is one that is ever-intensifying, and requires the most highly skilled and dedicated professionals to investigate crime scenes and help bring criminals to justice. The increase of violent crime in Louisville has caused the demand for qualified forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators to increase as well. The meticulous and detailed gathering, collection, documentation, and analysis of physical evidence found at crime scenes calls for skilled collaboration by a team of investigative experts.

Requirements for Careers in Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigations in Louisville

Becoming a crime scene investigator in Louisville requires tremendous dedication and commitment. That dedication begins with the education that is necessary for a career in this challenging field. Education and proper training is the foundation of a successful and rewarding career as a CSI professional in Louisville and anyone who is serious about becoming a crime scene investigator or forensic science technician should be equally serious about the education that is involved.

Most hiring agencies in Louisville do not require a degree in order to become a CSI professional but almost all of those individuals who do get hired indeed have at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field and many of them have a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree. The areas of study to consider are:

  • Forensic Science
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physics
  • Criminal Justice

The requirements for different specializations vary as do those for the various hiring agencies in Louisville. Contact one of the above agencies for more information regarding specific applicant requirements for crime scene investigations.

Forensics in Action in Louisville

While a career as a CSI professional is indeed an exciting and very rewarding one, it is also extremely demanding and requires extraordinary dedication and attention to detail. That being said, with the rate of violent crime as high as it is in Louisville and nary a sign of slowing down anytime soon, there is an equally high demand for crime scene specialists who have the skills and intestinal fortitude to thoroughly and accurately investigate all manner of violent crime scenes.

Some of the law enforcement agencies hiring forensic crime specialists and crime scene investigators include:

  • The Louisville Metro Police Department
  • The Global Metro Police
  • The Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office
  • The Hillview Police Department
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