Crime Scene Investigator Salary (2023)

Crime Scene Investigator Salary (4)

Crime scenes aren’t pretty, but in the eyes of CSIs, they’re a bounty of evidence waiting to be harvested. Identifying, preserving, and collecting evidence at the crime scene remain their sole focus. Using the skills they’ve acquired and honed through careers in law enforcement and training in forensic science, they maintain the integrity of the evidence that gets collected to ensure it paints a clear and true portrait of the crime that took place there.

Earning potential in crime scene investigations tends to be strong, but the higher salaries almost always go to professionals with more formal education and those within larger police agencies. This is a career where earning your dues is a must and higher education is a basic expectation, but with the right training and time in the field, you can expect some handsome paychecks.

Salaries for Crime Scene Investigators

Salaries for CSIs in the FBI’s Evidence Response Team

Salaries for Crime Scene Investigators, by State

Salaries for Crime Scene Investigators

Crime Scene Investigator Salary (5)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), crime scene investigators (classified by BLS in a broader category inclusive of forensic science technicians, crime scene analysts, and criminalists) earned an average salary of $59,150 as of May 2019. The top earners in the field (top 10%) earned $97,350 during this time.

The Role Experience, Education, and Industry Play in CSI Salaries

Most crime scene investigators above the technician level are mid-career professionals who have paid their dues in law enforcement as police officers. This means most CSIs are sworn officers with at least a handful of years of experience, and in many smaller police departments, they often hold the dual title of police officer/crime scene investigator.

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A lack of consistency in the professional ranks from department to department can make it a bit difficult to pinpoint accurate salaries at different levels, but what emerges from the data is the fact that those with more advanced degrees almost always bring home bigger paychecks than their colleagues with associate’s degrees or certificates in crime scene investigations. Professionals with bachelor’s degrees in a field related to forensic science remain the most sought after in the profession, while senior leaders and supervisors often have graduate degrees in areas like forensic chemistry, forensic science, and biomedical forensic science front and center on their resume.

Experience also remains a big factor when it comes to earning potential in the field. For example, a police officer with a decade of experience will naturally earn more as a crime scene investigator than someone who’s been in law enforcement for just a few years. Similarly, someone who’s earned their stripes as a crime scene investigator and has a long history of outstanding crime scene work will demand a higher salary than someone who’s relatively new to the field.

You’ll find some variation among CSI salaries based on location, usually due to cost of living differences. For example, it comes as no surprise that the BLS reports California as the top-paying state in the nation for crime scene investigators, with an annual, mean salary of $87,200. Other states that come out on top for average pay include:

  • Illinois: $82,130
  • Massachusetts: $76,950
  • Alaska: $72,380
  • Virginia: $69,260

The biggest difference in pay can be attributed to the size of the agency employer, whether it’s directly with a state or county agency or regional crime lab. Again, no surprise here: many of the nation’s largest metro areas which, of course, are home to some of the largest police agencies and crime labs, come out on top for CSI pay:

  • San Francisco, CA (also include Oakland and Hayward): $103,940
  • Oxnard, CA (also include Thousand Oaks and Ventura): $91,790
  • Sacramento, CA (also includes Roseville, Arden, and Arcade): $90,670
  • Toledo, OH: $85,320
  • Washington D.C. (also includes Arlington and Alexandria, VA): $85,140
  • Boston, MA (includes Cambridge): $82,850

Of course, you’ll find salary differences between CSIs working for federal, state, and local agencies too. For example, BLS stats show that federal CSIs with the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies earned an annual, mean salary of $111,180 as of May 2019, while those in state and local police agencies earned $62,470 and $64,700, respectively.

Salaries for CSIs in the FBI’s Evidence Response Team

Crime Scene Investigator Salary (6)

Crime scene investigators in the FBI (called special agents, logistic management specialists, forensic operations specialists, and more) are part of the Evidence Response Team (ERT) program, which has teams in all 56 FBI field offices. These forensic teams descend upon what the FBI refers to as “complex crime scenes and catastrophic world events” to collect and preserve evidence. Plane crashes, bombings, terrorist events, and the like are all in the realm of the work of the ERT.

They are national and world leaders in crime scene processing and must adhere to the highest standards of safety, expertise, equipment, training, and capability. Land a job in the FBI’s ERT and chances are you’ll be counted among the highest paid crime scene investigators in the country.

While education and experience requirements vary based on the position, you’ll be expected to have experience in a number of areas, such as evidence recovery, preservation procedures, investigative and operational methods. Specialty positions within the ERT include working with hazardous materials and require skills related to maritime, swift water, dive support, trenching, and shoring.

As a governmental agency, the FBI follows the General Schedule (GS)-the pay scale for all federal employees. The GS features 15 pay grades (G-1 to G-15) and ten pay steps within each grade. Based on the most current FBI information, positions with the ERT start at the GS-9 level, with higher salaries based on education and experience.

The 2020 GS schedule is as follows:

  • GS-9: $45,627 – $59,316
  • GS-10: $50,246 – $65,321
  • GS-11: $55,204 – $71,764
  • GS-12: $66,167 – $86,021
  • GS-13: $78,681 – $102,288
  • GS-14: $92,977 – $120,868
  • GS-15: $109,366 – $142,180

Salaries for Crime Scene Investigators, by State

Crime Scene Investigator Salary (7)

Learn more about what crime scene investigators in your state were earning at the 50th and 90thpercentiles, as of May 2019 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • Alabama: $47,400 – $62,000 (approximately 160 forensic science technicians)
  • Alaska: $69,480 – $97,740 (approximately 50 forensic science technicians)
  • Arizona: $58,830 – $92,000 (approximately 700 forensic science technicians)
  • Arkansas: $45,970 – $53,560 (approximately 160 forensic science technicians)
  • California: $82,070 – $130,030 (approximately 2,150 forensic science technicians)
  • Colorado: $65,040 – $93,620 (approximately 330 forensic science technicians)
  • Connecticut: $71,980 – $90,960 (approximately 110 forensic science technicians)
  • Florida: $52,480 – $78,980 (approximately 1,680 forensic science technicians)
  • Georgia: $45,630 – $75,690 (approximately 560 forensic science technicians)
  • Hawaii: $55,070 – $76,040 (approximately 80 forensic science technicians)
  • Illinois: $89,400 – $102,150 (approximately 410 forensic science technicians)
  • Indiana: $62,760 – $86,980 (approximately 380 forensic science technicians)
  • Kansas: $49,040 – $74,150 (approximately 400 forensic science technicians)
  • Kentucky: $46,370 – $70,560 (approximately 70 forensic science technicians)
  • Louisiana: $45,600 – $78,020 (approximately 230 forensic science technicians)
  • Maine: $61,290 – $71,240 (approximately 30 forensic science technicians)
  • Maryland: $63,500 – $108,990 (approximately 440 forensic science technicians)
  • Massachusetts: $74,700 – $118,040 (approximately 80 forensic science technicians)
  • Michigan: $69,810 – $94,040 (approximately 360 forensic science technicians)
  • Minnesota: $60,070 – $89,580 (approximately 90 forensic science technicians)
  • Mississippi: $50,680 – $66,180 (approximately 110 forensic science technicians)
  • Missouri: $52,310 – $75,790 (approximately 350 forensic science technicians)
  • Montana: $68,320 – $79,170 (approximately 50 forensic science technicians)
  • Nebraska: $52,420 – $71,930 (approximately 110 forensic science technicians)
  • Nevada: $62,650 – $98,340 (approximately 380 forensic science technicians)
  • New Hampshire: $72,810 – $82,870 (approximately 50 forensic science technicians)
  • New Jersey: $57,750 – $96,990 (approximately 100 forensic science technicians)
  • New Mexico: $36,830 – $78,660 (approximately 240 forensic science technicians)
  • New York: $65,030 – $93,500 (approximately 860 forensic science technicians)
  • North Carolina: $45,700 – $65,520 (approximately 440 forensic science technicians)
  • Ohio: $66,630 – $92,380 (approximately 460 forensic science technicians)
  • Oklahoma: $58,340 – $80,600 (approximately 210 forensic science technicians)
  • Oregon: $70,910 – $85,880 (approximately 250 forensic science technicians)
  • Pennsylvania: $47,930 – $76,230 (approximately 300 forensic science technicians)
  • South Carolina: $39,410 – $61,060 (approximately 150 forensic science technicians)
  • South Dakota: $35,300 – $62,600 (approximately 40 forensic science technicians)
  • Tennessee $51,150 – $78,340 (approximately 510 forensic science technicians)
  • Texas: $52,670 – $84,110 (approximately 1,480 forensic science technicians)
  • Virginia: $67,230 – $106,670 (approximately 440 forensic science technicians)
  • Washington: $64,580 – $86,860 (approximately 400 forensic science technicians)
  • West Virginia: $41,420 – $67,280 (approximately 110 forensic science technicians)
  • Wisconsin: $52,110 – $86,370 (approximately 250 forensic science technicians)
  • Wyoming: $50,370 – $79,150 (approximately 50 forensic science technicians)

Salary and employment data compiled by theUnited States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which forensic science technicians work.BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

All salary and employment data accessed August 2020.

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What is the most a crime scene investigator salary? ›

Crime Scene Investigator Salary. $41,000 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $62,500 is the 75th percentile.

Do crime scene investigators make good money? ›

Among the 174 CSIs who reported their salaries to this site, the annual median wage for crime scene investigators was $49,056 (PayScale October 2022). The lower 10 percent earned $39,000, and the upper 10 percent earned $80,000.

What is the lowest salary for a crime scene investigator? ›

Crime Scene Investigator Salary Info by Industry

The average salaries of forensic science technicians vary significantly by industry, ranging from an average of over $100,000 to around $36,000 on the low end.

Is it hard to get a job as a crime scene investigator? ›

It is often difficult to find a entry-level CSI job. The article Finding an entry level CSI job has suggestions for finding your first job as a Crime Scene Investigator.

How many hours a week do CSI work? ›

Crime scene investigators and technicians typically work full-time 40-hour work weeks plus overtime hours. You may work a variety of shifts, including during daytime, evening, and night shifts on both weekdays and weekends. CSIs may be required to work on holidays and special occasions.

What is the highest paying job in crime? ›

  • Ranking the High Paying Criminal Justice Jobs.
  • #1 – Judge and Hearing Officers.
  • #2 – Attorney or Lawyer.
  • #3 – FBI Specialist.
  • #4 – FBI Agent.
  • #5 – Criminologist.
  • #6 – Financial Examiner.
  • #7 – Intelligence Analyst.
Nov 18, 2022

Is criminal investigation a good career? ›

Criminal Investigator Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), investigators earn a median annual salary of $83,640. The BLS also projects that the employment rate of criminal investigators will decline by 1% from 2021 to 2031.

What are the benefits of being a CSI? ›

Most Popular Benefits at CSI
  • Paid Holidays / Vacation. Employees: 46.
  • 401(k) Employees: 35.
  • Life Insurance/Disability. Employees: 28.
  • Paid Sick Leave. Employees: 27.
  • Casual Dress/Atmosphere. Employees: 25.
  • Education/Training/Tuition/Certification Reimbursement. Employees: 13.
  • Cell Phone. Employees: 11.
Jan 28, 2023

What type of investigator makes the most money? ›

High Paying Investigator Jobs
  • Principal Investigator. Salary range: $97,000-$209,000 per year. ...
  • Polygraph Examiner. Salary range: $51,000-$132,500 per year. ...
  • Forensic Engineer. Salary range: $79,500-$120,500 per year. ...
  • Forensic Analyst. ...
  • Forensic Investigator. ...
  • Director of Investigations. ...
  • Corporate Investigator. ...
  • Investigations Manager.

Do CSI agents make a lot of money? ›

For example, it comes as no surprise that the BLS reports California as the top-paying state in the nation for crime scene investigators, with an annual, mean salary of $87,200.

Is a crime scene investigator a stressful job? ›

Stress, burnout and other negative impacts on your mental and emotional health are very real possibilities for those who work in crime scene investigation, forensic science and criminal justice.

What state pays the most for crime scene investigators? ›

Detailed List Of The Best States For Forensic Investigators
RankStateAverage Salary
41 more rows
Dec 11, 2016

What are the cons of being a crime scene investigator? ›

Physically Demanding

Crime scene investigators may be required to lift, bend, stretch, crawl, and climb to gather evidence. Slogging through mud and almost impassable conditions are often part of the job. When collecting evidence, you may spend hours on your knees in uncomfortable positions.

Do you need math to be a crime scene investigator? ›

Education: A career as a forensic analyst requires an undergraduate degree in mathematics, chemistry, biology, or a related natural science field.

How long does it take to be in CSI? ›

This two-year associate of applied science (AAS) program in law enforcement includes training in criminal law, investigations, computer-related crimes, laboratory techniques, terrorism, loss prevention, evidence gathering, juvenile issues, and more.

What do csi wear? ›

Protective equipment may include gloves, goggles/face masks, booties, and jumpsuits; a hair covering or hairnet is needed to prevent hair from getting mixed up in crime scene evidence. In areas with a chemical contamination risk, a CSI may wear an encapsulated suit with a breathing apparatus.

Does CSI work inside or outside? ›

Forensic science technicians may have to work outside in all types of weather, spend many hours in laboratories and offices, or do some combination of both. They often work with specialists and other law enforcement personnel.

Are CSI in high demand? ›

Yes, crime scene investigator jobs are in demand.

What is a criminologist salary? ›

How much you might earn: Average salaries are around £27,000. This will depend on where you're located and whether you work for a government agency or a charity. Salaries can rise to £38,000 with experience.

Is it hard to become a criminologist? ›

Difficult Academic Requirements

The academic training of a criminologist is rigorous, according to "The Princeton Review." Entry-level criminologist jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, usually in sociology, psychology or criminology.

What do you need to be good at to be a CSI? ›

Requirements for Becoming a Crime Scene Investigator in California
  • Introduction to Criminal Law/Procedure.
  • Crime Scene Photography.
  • Crime Scene Management.
  • Fingerprint Techniques/Impression Evidence.
  • Forensic Report Writing.
  • Rules of Evidence.
  • Blood Pattern Analysis.
  • Forensic Digital Imaging.

Which is better investigator or detective? ›

However, sometimes the difference between these titles lies in their specialization: Some workplaces offer the detective title for those who handle homicide and/or missing person cases; further, the criminal investigator title is given to those who handle a broader range of investigations (such as fraud and other ...

Do CSI agents carry guns? ›

Yes, NCIS Special Agents are required to carry firearms and periodically qualify with their service weapon. Firearm instruction is included in the basic agent training program.

Do CSI agents work alone? ›

Work independently and as part of a team: Crime scene investigators often work on crime scenes independently as they obtain evidence while also working as part of a larger law enforcement team to solve crimes and bring justice to victims.

What is the average day of a CSI? ›

Crime scene investigators often work long hours, even though their normal work schedules might appear to be simply from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., five days a week. Crimes happen anytime without notice – during the day, at night and on the weekends.

Do crime scene Investigators have PTSD? ›

A recent survey of crime scene investigators utilizing a PTSD measure found symptoms suggestive of a clinical disorder in 9.3% of 225 CSIs (28).

What place has the best CSI jobs? ›

We will examine some of these in the following material regarding cities with an excellent CSI department.
  • St. Louis County, Missouri. ...
  • Phoenix, Arizona. ...
  • New York, N.Y. ...
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ...
  • Quantico, Virginia. ...
  • Additional Resources.

What is the best school for crime scene investigation? ›

  • Ohio State University. Ohio State University has a Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies, BA. ...
  • George Washington University. ...
  • University of Alabama. ...
  • East Carolina University. ...
  • Penn State University. ...
  • Cedarville University. ...
  • Madonna University. ...
  • Virginia Commonwealth University.

What mistakes might an investigator make? ›

Four Incident Investigation Interviewing Mistakes that are Haunting Investigators
  • Being unprepared. Coming across as disorganized sets a negative tone for the entire interview. ...
  • Not structuring the Interview properly. ...
  • Firing off questions. ...
  • Not listening.
Oct 15, 2021

Why do people want to be crime scene investigators? ›

Among the intangible benefits of being a crime scene investigator is the satisfaction of solving a crime, identifying suspects, and bringing justice to victims and their survivors.

What GPA do you need for forensics? ›

The Master of Professional Studies degree in Forensic Science is appropriate for students with a baccalaureate degree in the biological sciences, chemistry, or a related field of study. Applicants are required to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in their undergraduate degree.

What grades are needed for forensics? ›

Entry requirements

a minimum of 112 points from A levels including a C in Biology or Human Biology (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science with MMM) English Language and Mathematics GCSEs at grade C/grade 4 or above (or equivalent)

What grades do I need to be a forensic scientist? ›

Entry requirements

You'll usually need: 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including chemistry. a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study.

What is the difference between a detective and a crime scene investigator? ›

Both criminal investigators and detectives work for law enforcement agencies. Typically, detectives work on cases involving homicides and felonies, while criminal investigators work on a range of criminal and civil cases, such as fraud and missing persons.

Where do crime scene investigators make the most? ›

The highest paying forensic jobs are with the federal government in agencies like the FBI where CSIs reportedly averaged ​$120,790​ per year.
  • Forensic Crime Scene Investigator Job Description. ...
  • Forensic Crime Scene Investigator Education Requirements. ...
  • Forensic Crime Scene Investigator Pay.

Is crime scene Investigation a good career? ›

If you are thinking about pursuing a career in criminal investigation, you may want to consider becoming a CSI. You can begin working, in most cases, with a bachelor's degree. The work can be both interesting and rewarding. The pay is decent and the prospects of finding a position are pretty good.

What are the negatives of working as a CSI? ›

Crime scene investigators can be under intense pressure from police to finish forensic reports. Caseloads are heavy in high crime areas. At times, the job can be emotionally draining.

What qualifications do you need to be a crime scene investigator? ›

Some employers may prefer A levels or equivalent, including a science like chemistry or biology as you'll need laboratory skills. Many employers ask for a degree and will expect you to have experience in police work or a related field, for example intelligence gathering and analysis.

Do you need to be smart to be a CSI? ›

It is expected that you have attended a quality or have a degree in biology for lab techs and are able to apply that knowledge to your field duties. Second of all, you not only have to be smart, but you also have to know a lot of things. If you're below average, you can't be a CSI.

How long does it take to become a crime scene investigation? ›

The International Crime Scene Investigators Association (ICSIA) provides a CSI certification to professionals with at least two years of experience and 50 hours of crime scene processing coursework.


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