Re: Degree in forensic science vs. Criminal justice
As an individual with a master's in Criminal Justice minoring in Forensic Science, I would highly suggest getting a science-based degree if your intention is to work in forensics. I work in a civilian capacity and CJ degrees just aren't as highly regarded, in my opinion. This is a tough field to get into, therefore requiring you set yourself out among all others. It took me over four years and hundreds of applications to get my first crime scene position, and I feel that a science degree along with an internship would have reduced that dramatically. Good luck
While I agree a degree in Biology or Chemistry is best especially for a forensic job in a laboratory, not all agencies require such education for a Crime Scene Investigation job. And some people are unable to do a for year degree or have the aptitude for Chemistry or Biology. I believe someone can be an effective CSI without a four year degree as long as they are detail-oriented and have the proper training.
I also agree that just a Criminal Justice degree does not carry much weight other than to show you can stick it out in a degree program.
For someone who can't do a four year degree in Biology or Chemistry, or just has a Criminal Justice degree, I suggest they consider getting specialized training in Crime Scene Investigations. There are programs that focus just on Crime Scene Investigations. One such program is the Crime Scene Investigation Certificate Program offered at the University of California. They have a Summer Academy in which you can receive specialized training in Crime Scene Investigations and receive a certificate upon successful completion of the program. The Summer Academy starts in July each year and runs for five weeks. People come from all over the United States for the five week training. A certificate for more specialized training will make you more marketable. Here is the link for a brochure on the program: CSI Academy brochure. To enroll or receive more information: Crime Scene Investigation Summer Certificate Program.
I happen to teach in the CSI Certificate program and can tell you we have had several students go on to get jobs as Crime Scene Investigators.
I think the best advice on education is to decide where you want to work, find out what they require in education, and then get that level of education. There are over 600 jobs listed on the employment opportunity page of the Crime Scene Investigator Network. Look through the job listings to see what the different agencies require in education.