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Crime scene investigators, or forensic scientists, employ scientific methods to assist police investigators in solving crimes. Forensic scientists collect and analyze physical evidence taken at crime scenes. Real-life crime scene investigation work does not have the excitement of television shows such as “NCIS” or “CSI,” but investigators can expect to earn a good salary for their scientific knowledge and skills.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average hourly wages for different types of science technicians in 2008. Forensic science technicians earned a median hourly wage of $23.97. Based on a 40-hour work week and 52 weeks a year, this translates to a median monthly salary of $4,154.75, or $49,857 a year.
As an informal job designation, crime scene investigator can encompass a variety of titles, including criminalist, crime scene technician, forensic scientist and forensic evidence technician. The website Inside Prison reported average earnings for a variety of forensic professionals. Crime scene technicians, for example, earned between $20.40 and $22 an hour, or $3,536 to $3,813 a month, the website reported.
Monthly compensation for other forensic professionals, as reported by Inside Prison, includes $4,000 to $5,000 a month for forensic evidence technicians and $2,916 to $4,333 a month for forensic scientists. Criminalist supervisors, meanwhile, earned between $5,000 and $7,000 a month.
Besides specialties, factors affecting a crime scene investigator’s salary include education and place of employment. Employment requires at least a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, forensic science or a related scientific discipline. Inside Prison reported that a forensic technician in Arizona earned about $2,292 a month, based on 2002 information, while a Massachusetts crime scene investigator earned more than $4,166 a month.
Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.