Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget Labor Market Information indicates that between 2010 and 2020, job opportunities for crime scene investigators in Michigan are expected to grow by 4.5 percent, with an average of 54  job openings each year. Becoming a crime scene investigator in Michigan is only possible through completion of specialized training, education and experience. Luckily, there are many career training schools and universities/colleges in Michigan that offer CSI training for this growing field.

Possible CSI job titles in Michigan include:

  • Field investigator
  • Detective
  • Police officer
  • Evidence technician
  • Evidence technician supervisor

Crime Scene Investigator Education in Michigan

There are various types of crime scene investigation jobs across Michigan, each of which carries its own educational, training and experiential requirements. Some CSI jobs in Michigan require up to two years of training, or a certificate or associate degree; while others may require a four-year or more college degree.

Some CSI training programs in Michigan are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. It is not obligatory that applicants for CSI jobs in Michigan graduate from FEPAC-accredited schools, but be aware that some CSI employers may only hire graduates of schools accredited by FEPAC.

Crime Scene Investigation Certificates and Associate Degrees in Michigan

Crime scene investigation jobs that deal with collecting and processing evidence in typically require completion of a certificate or associate’s degree program. In Michigan, these types of CSI jobs include:

  • Police Officer
  • Field Technician
  • Evidence Assistant

Accredited institutions in Michigan offer the following certificate and associate degree programs in criminal investigation:

  • Associate of Science in Criminology and Forensic Technology
  • Associate of Science in Forensic Technology
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Crime Scene Investigation Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in Michigan

Criminal investigation jobs in Michigan that require at least a bachelor’s degree include:

  • Evidence Analyst
  • Forensic Investigator
  • Biological Anthropologist
  • Detective

Accredited colleges and universities in Michigan offer these criminal investigation degrees at the bachelor’s level and higher:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biochemistry
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Anthropology
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science

Professional Certification and Training for CSIs in Michigan

For CSI professionals who are already working in Michigan, joining and/or becoming certified by a nationally or internationally known entity is recommended. This is a great way to network, to meet other professionals and to further one’s education:

  • American Board of Forensic Document Examiners – Certification requirements include a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience working in a forensic laboratory. Certificants are known as Diplomates of the ABFDE. According to the ABFDE, two professionals from Michigan are currently Diplomates.
  • Forensic Art Certification Board, International Association for Identification – Applicants must complete 80 hours of IAI-approved forensic art training programs, two years of experience as a forensic artist, and have worked on at least 30 forensic art cases. Certificants are referred to as Certified Forensic Artists (CFA). According to the IAI, there are no CFAs from Michigan listed on the Certified Forensic Artist Roster as of 2013.

Other CSI positions, such as those within the Michigan State Police or homicide investigation, require specific training that one receives after being hired. The Michigan State Police Homicide Investigation Training is one example. Designed for Michigan State Police detectives, the training includes:

  • Scientific and diagnostic aids
  • Methods of forensic anthropology
  • Presentations on bite marks and forensic entomology
  • Medicolegal autopsy
  • Describing, sketching and photographing the scene of a homicide
  • Investigating a mock crime scene
  • Rules of evidence collection

Law Enforcement Organizations Supporting CSI Jobs in Michigan

  • City of Lansing Police Department-Crime Scene Investigation– The CSI Unit of this city police department investigates all types of crimes and accidents within the city. Duties include courtroom sketching, casting, photography, fingerprinting, and physical and trace evidence collecting and analyzing.
  • Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office Crime Bureau – This county crime investigation unit helps investigate major and minor crimes occurring within Hillsdale County, Michigan. The bureau has its own crime lab in the county that helps to analyze evidence collected from crime scenes.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Detroit Division – The FBI’s Detroit Division has three Evidence Response Teams, each composed of eight special agents and other specialists. They gather and process physical evidence from federal crime scenes in Michigan. Some of the work these special agents do include recovering DNA, determining bullet trajectories, analyze blood spatter patterns and stains, diagram scenes, photograph the scene, and gather fingerprints.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Michigan

The job outlook in Michigan is promising for forensic scientists according to the state’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.  They projected the number of forensic science positions to grow by 25.6% in the ten year period leading up to 2018.  Sixty-four percent of these positions are projected to be due to the replacement of people leaving the workforce.

A significant number of forensic scientists worked in Michigan in 2012 according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  They indicated that 190 such professionals worked in the state in 2012.

2012 BLS salary date for Michigan is available for forensic science technicians.  Their average salary that year was $70,650—the third highest of any state in the country.  Experienced professionals commanded substantially higher wages.  The average salary for those in the top tenth percent of their field in Michigan was $159,640.

The range of salaries for two forensic science positions in Michigan in 2013 is as follows:

Forensic Science Profession
Michigan City
Forensic Scientist/Latent Prints
Forensic Scientist 9-12
State of Michigan

The state of Michigan pays a range of salaries to its forensic scientists depending on their level of experience and expertise.  Some of the specialties of these scientists include:

  • Chemical/biology
  • Firearms
  • Latent prints and questioned documents

In addition to having jobs as lab technicians, other forensic scientists investigate crime scenes.  For instance, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Pontiac has a mobile crime lab that will respond to any crime scene around the clock.

Crime scene investigators (CSIs) can be employed as either sworn officers or civilians.  According to, the average crime scene investigator position in Michigan paid $57,000 in the one year period preceding October 2013.

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Detroit, Michigan

Crime in Detroit doesn’t pay for the criminals, but investigative careers in this field can be a smart career choice. Obtaining good evidence in the Detroit Metro area involves several agencies:

  • Detroit Police Department’s:
    • Homicide Bureau
    • Sex Crimes Bureau
    • Narcotics Section
    • Crime Analysis
  • Michigan State Police Crime Labs in:
    • Sterling Heights
    • Northville

Crime scene investigators work with the Detroit Police Department to collect and secure crime scene evidence and safely transport that evidence to a forensics lab. In the controlled laboratory environment, forensic scientists employed by the Michigan State Police have a variety of tools at their disposal to analyze evidence and glean as much information as possible. This will be passed on to Detroit law enforcement officials and used as evidence in court.

Education Requirements for CSI and Forensic Science Careers

Candidates need to come from the right educational background when applying for forensic science and CSI jobs in Detroit. To advance to a specialized unit in the Detroit Police Department, candidates need to be commissioned officers.

The process of moving up through the ranks of the department and into a more advanced position with the homicide or sex crimes bureau can be accelerated by having any of the following:

  • Certification as:
    • Criminologist
    • Evidence Technician
    • Field Technician
  • Degree in:
    • Public Safety
    • Criminology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Law Enforcement
    • CSI Degree

Candidates interested in pursuing a long-term career with Detroit Police special investigations units should consider obtaining a bachelor or master degree in any of the above.

Forensic science jobs with the Michigan State Police require candidates to have a bachelor degree in a natural or forensic science at minimum. Preferred subjects include:

  • Forensic Science Degree
  • Chemistry Degree
  • Degree in Biology
  • Coursework in:
    • Statistics
    • Criminalistics
    • Genetics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Constitutional Law

Going to School and Work Around Detroit

Forensic science and CSI courses are offered both through online schools and on campus locations. These universities, colleges, and schools can be found all around the Detroit Metro-Urban area, which includes:

  • Farmington Hills
  • Canton Township
  • Livonia
  • Clinton Township
  • Westland
  • Dearborn
  • Sterling Heights
  • Troy
  • Warren
  • Northville

The Detroit PD’s crime scene investigators work in units and bureaus spread across the department’s 12 districts and precincts that cover a combined statistical area that includes over 1,000 square miles and more than five million people.

There are two state crime labs in the Detroit Metro area that employ approximately 87 professionals. Forensic scientists work at these locations meticulously processing evidence, including:

  • Sterling Heights Crime Lab, which specializes in:
    • Trace evidence
    • Latent prints
    • Crime scene response
    • Body fluid identification
    • Controlled substances
    • Firearms and toolmarks
  • Northville Crime Lab specializes in the same areas as the Sterling Heights lab, with additional expertise to process and analyze DNA specimens

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Working in close conjunction with the Michigan State Police Department’s forensic science specialists, Grand Rapids Police Department crime scene investigators are on the job every day gathering evidence to ensure justice is upheld and the perpetrators of crimes are caught.

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Serving an area with nearly 190,000 residents, the Grand Rapids PD is currently staffed by 292 sworn officers and 29 civilians, nine of whom work as crime scene investigators. Last year these nine individuals wrote just under 6,000 reports covering crime scenes and the findings of their analyses. These reports along with any recovered evidence are submitted to forensic science professionals working at State Crime Labs across Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Laboratory, which analyzes specimens submitted from the entire Grand Rapids Metro Area, including:

  • Wyoming
  • Georgetown Township
  • Holland
  • Kentwood

Preparing for Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Grand Rapids With a Degree

Crime scene investigators, also known as crime scene technicians, are civilian employees of the Grand Rapids Police Department who have made it through a rigorous hiring process. In addition to passing a police background test they have also met the department’s education requirement- having at least a bachelor’s degree in certain specific majors.

Forensic scientists working in a controlled environment at the state crime lab in Grand Rapids have also risen above their competitors and completed a stringent employment screening process that, like CSI jobs with the police department, also requires at-minimum a bachelor’s degree in specific subjects.

Because forensic scientists and crime scene investigators conduct many similar tasks, their basic education requirements are essentially the same. Candidates for CSI and forensic science jobs in Grand Rapids will need to possess at least a bachelor degree in any of the following subjects:

  • Forensic Science Degree
  • Natural Science Degree
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Forensic Anthropology

There are several schools and colleges both online and at campus locations around Grand Rapids where interested students can obtain their education. When researching how to become a crime scene investigator or forensic scientist in Grand Rapids, candidates will also discover that previous experience in any of the following can improve employment prospects:

  • Photography
  • Law enforcement
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Laboratory experience, particularly in a forensic lab

Forensic Scientists and CSIs at Work in Grand Rapids

Forensic scientists working at the Grand Rapids State Crime Laboratory will have several areas of expertise that are related to the services provided by this lab, which are:

  • DNA isolation and analysis
  • Crime scene response
  • Trace evidence
  • Latent prints
  • Body fluid identification
  • Controlled substance testing and analysis
  • Firearms and toolmarks analysis

Crime scene investigators with the Grand Rapids PD work primarily with the following Class I crimes:

  • Robberies
  • Sexual assaults
  • Homicides
  • Aggravated assaults
  • Larcenies
  • Burglaries

The police department has recently been taking advantage of additional grants that provide state-of-the-art training for the department’s CSI experts from leading training agencies including:

  • National Institute of Justice
  • RTI (Research Triangle Institute) International
  • Midwest Forensics Resource Center
  • West Virginia University Forensic Science Initiative

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Lansing, Michigan

Lansing is home to one of Michigan’s most effective law enforcement collaborations – the Lansing Police Department’s crime scene investigators and the State Police’s Crime Laboratory in Lansing. Working together, forensic technicians conduct analysis in their controlled-laboratory work environment, analyzing evidence that has been meticulously gathered at crime scenes by police department CSI agents. Through this combined effort these professionals ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Preparing for CSI and Forensic Scientist Jobs in Lansing

Forensic science and CSI jobs in Lansing involve a similar skills set, although the process for being hired into either position is different.

CSI specialists are experienced officers of the Lansing Police Department. Joining the ranks of the city’s finest can be accomplished by candidates who only have a high school diploma, although having a two- or four-year college degree will give applicants more ways to qualify for the police academy.

Candidates planning to move up the ranks into a CSI position after a few years in the police force can strongly improve their chances with a bachelor’s degree. One option offered by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), the agency responsible for academy training, includes a bachelor degree in criminal justice track. CSI candidates may also consider any of the academic programs listed below.

The forensic scientists who work at the State Police Crime Lab in Lansing must all have a bachelor degree, specifically in a natural or forensic science. CSI candidates will also benefit by having degrees in these same fields, including:

  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Where possible, candidates for both these positions are also encouraged to obtain coursework in:

  • Statistics
  • Constitutional law
  • Forensic science
  • Criminalistics
  • Genetics
  • Criminal law

Throughout the Lansing Metro region there are several colleges and online schools offering degrees relevant to CSI and forensic science candidates. Prospective students are encouraged to research the entrance requirements for these educational institutions.

The Working Environment in Lansing

The Lansing PD’s CSI Unit is specially trained to be able to identify, recognize, collect and preserve evidence, working out of the department’s North Precinct. These specialists work in all types of accident and crime scene environments, using their skills and training to:

  • Collect physical evidence
  • Draw courtroom sketches
  • Search for trace evidence
  • Conduct fingerprinting
  • Take photographs
  • Make castings

The State Crime Lab in Lansing employs approximately 81 staff members who conduct various tests and analysis in the 83 thousand square foot facility. At this lab forensic scientists specialize in several areas of their field:

  • Trace evidence
  • Document analysis
  • DNA
  • Firearms and toolmarks
  • Blood-alcohol analysis
  • Controlled substance analysis
  • Body fluid identification
  • Crime scene response
  • Toxicology
  • Latent prints

The lab processes evidence submitted by agencies throughout the tri-county Lansing Metropolitan area, including those located in:

  • East Lansing
  • Meridian Charter Township
  • Delta Charter Township
  • Delhi Charter Township
  • Eaton County
  • Clinton County
  • Ingham County
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