Hello to all.
I'm very happy to say that I love looking at this website almost everyday because I learn a little something regarding to my future career as a crime scene investigator and look throughout the forums as to what people ask and what their responses are. Now, I have a general question regarding becoming a crime scene investigator. I graduated college with an Associate's in Arts in Criminal Justice and now graduating university with my Bachelor's in Science in Criminal Justice and pursuing my Masters in Criminal Justice. For those experts out there in this forum, what would your best advice be regarding my education. Would you consider getting a certificate in per se Criminal Death Investigation? And as well attending a CSI Academy for getting knowledge and experience before I apply to become a CSI?
One more question, I apologize for the many questions: Is there some sort of CSI test I would need to take in the future? I've been on the IAI website and I found a test there I might have to take in the future......what would you say about this?
Thank you so much for your time and it would be a great help if you can help me out.
In my experience, the more education you have isn't really going to help you out, it's the experience that agencies are looking for. And that's what makes this career so difficult to get into. If you can get a certification in something (without paying and arm and a leg for it) it might help, but honestly, again, it's the experience that's gonna hang you up when looking for a job. I had an AAS in Criminal Justice, 2 years of hands on classes to get me a Btech in Criminal Investigations, a 600 hour internship with a VERY busy department on the east coast, and it took me a year and nine months to get hired. As far as education is considered, don't waste your money on things like the CSI Academy and certifications; they are VERY expensive, and your department will pay for those for you once you're hired. As for testing, you don't need to pass a test to become a CSI, although some departments will have you take a written exam to be hired (I never took one, so I can't tell you what they're like or what's on them). There are certifications you can get from the IAI (again, wait for your department to pay for them). You don't NEED to take these certifications, but most agencies will pay you more for any certification you do have (unfortunately, mine is not one of those departments), so they are good to have. If you only took the first job that came up so you could get your foot in the door and get experience, and it's not somewhere you see yourself for the rest of your life, those certifications will make you look more appealing to other agencies as you apply to the places you'd rather be.
I really hope I was able to help you out. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Thank you Elizabeth for your kind, sincere, and honest reply. It completely helps me out and as well will guide me towards my future career as a CSI. Yes, I completely agree with you on the experience part. You can have all the degrees in the world, but at the end, it all comes down to experience. Certificates are more or less at a good price to get but there are some that are just ridiculous as to the pre-reqs they require you to have done just in order to obtain that certificate. Thank you for taking your time to read and answer my post.
In your field of expertise, what would you recommend I do from this point on?
I'm finishing my B.S. C.J. and will follow-up with my M.S. C.J.
Would you recommend I attend a police academy therefore after I finish with my education?
I've been told this will be a great beneficial to open my doors more to a CSI.
You are very welcome. I don't know what certs you are looking at, or maybe your idea of "reasonably priced" is different than mine, but if you want to take some, it couldn't hurt, just make sure it's a real certification, through an accredited or established company.
When I got my B-tech, I started applying (before I even graduated) everywhere. I don't know if moving is an option for you, but it would really help you out if you are able to move wherever the job takes you, you just want your foot in the door right now. I would start applying. If you can get a job without a masters, take it. You'll have time to finish your masters later, a job is more important.
Police academy is an up in the air question. I am a civilian CSI. I don't need to know what an officer knows, or do the PT testing, or written testing to become a police officer (which is basically what the academy is for). Some departments will require that you're a sworn officer. It all depends on where you work. Make sure when you're applying, you look for civilian jobs, or go to the academy and look for sworn jobs - that doesn't really make a difference.
Having a degree in Criminal Justice is good, but you probably need a little more training to stand out from all the other applicants competing for a CSI job.
You could attend a Crime Scene Investigation Certificate Program to receive CSI specific training. One such program is the Crime Scene Investigation Summer Certificate offered at the University of California in Riverside, California. The summer program runs from July 7 through August 8, 2014. (The University has resources for housing for out of town students.) I teach in the program and believe it is one of the best programs of its kind. We have had students from all over the United States. Many who have received the CSI Certificate have been successful in becoming employed as a CSI.
...what would your best advice be regarding my education. Would you consider getting a certificate in per se Criminal Death Investigation? And as well attending a CSI Academy for getting knowledge and experience before I apply to become a CSI?
I'm currently active duty military stationed at Miramar San Diego, CA and its hard for me to attend the program because of the morning classes. Do you have other programs or degrees that similar so active duty military can attend? My unit will not let me take 30 days of leave to attend the program. Thanks.