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Old 06-19-2013, 11:37 AM
 
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Smile Forensic Science Major Need Advice

i'm majoring in forensic science and i want to be a crime scene technician and then work my way up to crime scene investigator; i'm not sure if i want to become a police officer in order to be csi. i love biology and i don't like chemistry so much, even though i still have to take chem classes.

you have to choose a track in the forensic science program, so would forensic chem or forensic bio be better if you want to be a csi?
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:19 PM
 
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I hate to break it to you, but contrary to popular TV shows there are almost no civilian crime scene investigators in the U.S. Those positions are filled by people who have extensive experience as uniformed officers who move into the evidence collection role. Evidence techs and detectives are not the same job, nor do they require the same skill set. Being a evidence tech does not mean that you will ever get into the detective section.

Neither biology or chemistry is needed to be an effective evidence tech or detective. A bio or chem degree is needed to be a civilian forensic scientist who works in a crime lab. This person does not investigate crimes and rarely sees a crime scene. They test and analyze evidence that has been collected and submitted by an e-tech. The detective comes up with hypothesis, interviews witnesses, creates association matrixes, obtains search warrants, etc., etc. in order to piece together a probable chain of events. Generally speaking, detectives don't collect evidence and evidence techs don't conduct criminal investigations. Neither one does forensics work. Forensics folks don't investigate crimes and rarely (sometimes never) go to the field to collect evidence.

Regardless of what you see on TV or what your school may have told you, it sounds to me like you do not understand the actual role of these positions and what the job market is for them.
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: southwestern PA... where the nest is now empty!
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Maybe this will help...

Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) | explorehealthcareers.org
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitt Chick View Post
thanks

i thought you had to major in forensic science to be csi; i did at first want to work in the crime lab, but i actually like the investigative aspect of the field instead of science.

would majoring in forensic science with a cj minor be stupid

or

just major in criminal justice?
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:36 PM
 
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A forensic science major will help since that is what you want to get into. I would suggest doing a bio/chem track, both majors, if you can. It will make you more marketable down the road.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
A forensic science major will help since that is what you want to get into. I would suggest doing a bio/chem track, both majors, if you can. It will make you more marketable down the road.
the school that im currently attending has forensic science that requires you to choose bio, chem, or anthro as your track. i'm currently a junior bio major but will be switching to forensics once i take a couple more classes this fall and when my gpa meets the requirement, but technically i am a fs major. i dont want to do the program here, so i plan to sit out in the spring and transfer fall 2014.

the school i plan on transferring to has the program and is accredited and doesnt require you to choose a track, whereas my current school's program isnt accredited.

the thing is, that im very interested in the investigative aspect instead of the scientific/lab work stuff.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:01 PM
 
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are you saying to double major, fs and cj?
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:42 PM
 
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With a forensic science degree you can work in a crime lab as a technician or a forensic scientist. The chemistry track would be better. The link is too long, but this is pretty much what you will do with a forensic science degree.

Forensic Scientist (Drug Analysis or Toxicology)
Performs a variety of complex, independent laboratory tests, analyses, classifications, comparisons and identifications of all types of physical evidence from crime scenes with emphasis and specific recognized expertise in an optional or specialty area identified above. Interprets analytical results, establishes and maintains records pertaining to casework and court testimony, and composes technical reports. Testifies as an expert witness in court. May assist in training personnel. May be required to assume the duties of the Headquarters or Regional Laboratory Manager in his or her absence. Work is performed under general direction.

EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE

Forensic Scientist I
Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with a major in chemistry.


Forensic Scientist II
Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with a major in chemistry PLUS a minimum of one (1) year work experience as a Forensic Scientist I or the equivalent experience in another recognized laboratory in the same respective forensic discipline.

Forensic Scientist III
Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with a major in chemistry PLUS a minimum of three (3) years of work experience as a Forensic Scientist II or the equivalent work experience in the same forensic discipline.

As someone else said, civilian jobs as a crime scene technician or evidence technician are hard to come by. There is one police department where I live that hires civilians with criminal justice or related degrees (I was considered qualified with a social science degree) and another that only uses their current officers. If I can qualify for a crime scene tech job with a social science degree, I'm sure someone can be considered qualified with a forensic science degree. There is no need to double major or minor in criminal justice. A forensic science program should have the right mix of natural science and criminal justice material already. Criminal justice degrees are only helpful for corrections, parole/probation, some social service jobs, private security management, some jobs in insurance fraud investigations, and a handful of law enforcement jobs.

In the law enforcement agency that only hires officers in-house as evidence techs, I don't even think a degree is required. You can easily train anyone on how to take pictures, put down markers, dust for fingerprints, etc. As Joe from Daytona said, detectives/investigators investigate, evidence/crime scene techs do not. You have to be a police officer in order to be a criminal investigator/detective. I don't know about all police departments, but at the ones where I live, you don't need a degree in criminal justice to become a detective. You need to spend a few years on patrol and score high enough on a test and interview in order to become one.

If you want to become certified in criminalistics:
Quote:
Education
Applicant must possess a minimum of an earned baccalaureate degree, or equivalent, in a natural science or an appropriately related field from an accredited institution. Accredited institutions are those approved by regional accrediting commissions recognized by the U.S. Office of Education or foreign equivalent, and other institutions approved by the American Board of Criminalistics Board of Directors. At its discretion, the Board through its Credentials Committee may request documentation which certifies compliance with this requirement.
Professional Experience and Training
Applicant must possess a minimum of two years full-time experience (including on-the-job training) and be actively working in Criminalistics.

Qualifying activities may include casework, teaching at the post-secondary level, research, supervision, and management. If taking one of the specialized ABC examinations, the experience should be in that particular field.
http://www.criminalistics.com/eligibility.cfm

Last edited by L210; 06-19-2013 at 05:10 PM..
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:58 PM
 
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I found the job ad I applied to for crime scene investigator I. While "investigator" is included in the title, it was really just a technician job and the starting pay was $16.61 per hour. I hope this helps.

Quote:
Under immediate supervision, is responsible for collecting, documenting, and preserving evidence at a crime scene. Exercises no supervision.
Essential Job Functions:
Evaluates crime scene and ensures it is well protected.

Photographs and videotapes crime scene.

Searches crime scene thoroughly for physical evidence.

Collects, marks, and preserves physical evidence and latent fingerprints.

Prepares diagram of crime scene and other reports.

Presents forensic evidence in official proceedings.

Performs related duties and fulfills responsibilities as required.
Job Requirements:
Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university.
Valid Texas Driver's License.

Must pass Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) background and maintain CJIS eligibility.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:
Physical requirements include occasional lifting/carrying of 50 pounds; visual acuity, speech and hearing; hand and eye coordination and manual dexterity necessary to operate a computer keyboard, photography and other evidence collection equipment. Subject to sitting, standing, climbing, crawling, kneeling, stooping, reaching, twisting, and walking to perform the essential functions. Working conditions are inside and outside with frequent exposure to temperature extremes, hazardous materials, bodily fluids, infectious diseases and unfavorable fumes, vapors, odors and may include operating in hazardous conditions which may necessitate the use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, protective clothing and respirators.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
Knowledge of crime investigation techniques and procedures.

Skill in utilizing a personal computer and associated software programs.

Ability to communicate clearly and effectively, both verbally and in writing.

Ability to analyze and collect physical evidence at a crime scene.

Ability to identify and develop latent prints.

Ability to sketch a crime scene.

Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with co-workers, supervisors, and the general public.

Ability to prepare clear and concise reports.

Ability to perform all physical requirements of the position.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheetahprints View Post
thanks

i thought you had to major in forensic science to be csi; i did at first want to work in the crime lab, but i actually like the investigative aspect of the field instead of science.

would majoring in forensic science with a cj minor be stupid

or

just major in criminal justice?
You can skip the whole "forensic science" degree if you want to, but you need a degree in chem or bio to get hired by a crime lab, so don't spend any significant extra money to get a forensic science degree when a science degree is just as valid.

You can skip the CJ stuff altogether; you don't need it and it will do nothing to prepare you for forensic or police work.

If you want to be an investigator, you are going to have to be a police officer or get lucky enough to get picked up by a state or federal agency that hires investigators as entry level positions.

My suggestion is to get the science degree as it will put you in the best position to take advantage of openings in either law enforcement or forensics, with the understanding that good jobs are in short supply and very competitive.
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