I have a bachelor's degree in education, but have recently decided I really want to get into the CSI field. This was always a dream of mine but was pushed away from it in HS by counselors due to ONE less than desirable science grade. I have been trying to research the best way into the field but it is very overwhelming and I have found a lot of varying information.
Ideally I would like to become a CSI or Forensics Technician.
Should I go for a Masters in Criminal Justice (or something else?)
Should I go for an associate's degree in CJ or Forensics, etc?
Is there anyway to volunteer time in a lab, even just perhaps cleaning tools or something to help me gain some kind of experience?
You really have all sorts of options. This is because agencies have differing educational requirements for entry level jobs. My advice is to decide where you want to work, find out what they require in education, and then get that level of education.
If you want to be a CSI or Forensics Technician (not a forensic scientist in a crime laboratory) you could 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.
There are over 600 jobs listed in the employment opportunity page of the Crime Scene Investigator Network. Look through the job listings to see what the different agencies require in education.
Again, my advice is to decide where you want to work, find out what they require in education, and then get that level of education.