dcsimg
You are here:

7 major myths of crime scene investigation

Contrary to what you've learned from popular television drama, most crime scene investigators do not lead a rousing life teetering on the edge of violence. It's true that they often work at crime scenes where they use forensic tools to gather, preserve and transport key evidence, but talk to a real CSI and you may find that these professionals are scientists, not Wild West gunslingers.

If you're wondering how to become a crime scene investigator, don't believe the TV hype. Let's bust some myths that arise from Hollywood's crime scene investigator job description.

1. Every law enforcement agency has its own CSI staff.

The Department of Labor reports that 12,390 forensic science technicians held jobs in the United States in 2010. This would not be enough to staff the 15,430 total Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies counted the same year by the U.S. Census.

2. A crime scene investigator salary brings in a ton of money.

Forensic technicians took home about $51,570 in 2010. The Labor Department's estimates for annual median wages also show that top earners in the field made up to $82,990. The Portland Tribune reports that instead of roaring around in $60,000 Hummers a la Horatio Caine, Oregon state forensics officers drive pickup trucks.

3. Forensic scientists carry side arms, make arrests, grill witnesses and face death.

Some may, if they're also sworn police officers. However, most investigators are civilians with extensive scientific training from crime scene investigator schools. The women don't wear high heels and sexy skirts, and they don't strip down to tank tops to fish bodies out of the bathtub. You'll wear a lab coat or a civilian uniform that resembles those worn by the police agency. Often the real challenge is to safely handle potentially dangerous chemicals that are used in gathering and testing evidence.

4. CSIs are former crime victims or ex-strippers.

The truth? These professionals typically hold a bachelor's degree in forensic science, biology, chemistry or criminal justice, and those performing DNA testing generally have graduate degrees. The required school for crime scene investigation is heavy in science and math courses.

5. You'll get to the bottom of things in 50 minutes.

L.A. County Crime Lab director Barry Fisher told Payscale.com that it takes weeks--sometimes months--to sift through evidence, and it may not ultimately affect the outcome of the investigation.

6. You'll be drenched with blood at disturbing murders and grotesque suicides.

Actually, the Portland Tribune found that 60 percent of bodies examined by Oregon CSIs died of natural causes and 26 percent were victims of an accidental death. Homicides make up only 2 percent of their investigations.

7. The best part of the job is helping police nab the bad guy.

That's not always the case. According to Fisher, you'll get equal satisfaction in finding out that the wrong suspect has been held in custody. Even so, as CSIs in Florida told NewsChief.com, you'll spend most of your day preparing and delivering paperwork to police, court personnel or to attorneys.

Still interested? If so, you can find training for crime scene investigation online or in traditional on-campus programs. And remember--many civilian CSIs are true scientists, problem solvers and patient professionals that work regular shifts. You won't be taking blood samples home to worry over during the night.

Search Schools

      
Matching School Ads
  • Grand Canyon University

    There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!

    Programs

    • M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
    • B.A. in Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies
    • B.A. in Government with an Emphasis in State and Local Public Policy
    • More...
    Location:
    Phoenix: 3300 W Camelback Road, Phoenix AZ 85017
    Grand Canyon University Request Info »
  • Capella University

    Make a difference in your community with a criminal justice degree from Capella University.

    Programs

    • MS - Criminal Justice
    • BS - Criminal Justice

    Location: Online

    Capella University Request Info »
  • South University, Online Programs

    As a student at South University, Online Programs, you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

    Programs

    • Criminal Justice (MS)
    • Criminal Justice (BS)
    • Paralegal Studies (AS)
    Location:
    Savannah: 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah GA 31406
    South University, Online Programs Request Info »
  • Liberty University

    100% Online & No Standardized Testing

    Programs

    • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
    • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Juvenile Justice
    • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Public Administration
    • More...
    Location:
    Lynchburg: 1971 University Blvd,, Lynchburg VA 24515
    Liberty University Request Info »
  • Argosy University

    Welcome to Argosy University

    Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

    Programs

    • Criminal Justice (BS) (Online)
    • Master of Law in Compliance
    Location:
    Phoenix: 2233 West Dunlap Ave., Phoenix AZ 85021
    Argosy University Request Info »
  • Regis University - CPS

    Regis is a regionally accredited, 130-year-old Jesuit university in Denver, Colorado. Inspired by the vision of St. Ignatius Loyola, we are dedicated to the pursuit of learning and truth in an effort to make positive change in our communities as well as ourselves.

    Programs

    • Master of Science in Criminology - Leadership Focus
    • Master of Science in Criminology - Cybercrime and Terrorism Focus
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminology
    • More...
    Location:
    Denver: 3333 Regis Boulevard, Denver CO 80221
    Regis University - CPS Request Info »
  • New England College

    Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey. From Application to Graduation, the Support You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

    Programs

    • BA in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement
    • BA in Criminal Justice
    • AA in Criminal Justice
    • More...
    Location:
    Henniker: 98 Bridge St,, Henniker NH 03242
    New England College Request Info »
  • California University of Pennsylvania

    Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017

    Programs

    • Applied Criminology (Master of Arts) - Online
    • Criminal Justice (Doctorate) - Online
    • Jurisprudence with concentration in Legal Studies (Bachelor of Science) - Online
    • More...
    Location:
    California: 250 University Ave,, California PA 15419
    California University of Pennsylvania Request Info »
  • Utica College

    Utica College, founded in 1946, is a comprehensive private institution located in upstate central New York.  The College offers regionally accredited online certificates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in healthcare, cybersecurity, financial crime, nursing, physical therapy, business, criminal justice, and data science.  All courses are taught by credentialed, highly experienced faculty with significant and ongoing accomplishments in their respective fields.

    Programs

    • BS in Criminal Justice - Cyber Criminology and Policy

    Location: Online

    Utica College Request Info »
  • EducationConnection

    There is a Simple Path to Your Future. Take that First Step with FindTopColleges!
    Location:
    Atlanta: , Atlanta GA
    EducationConnection Request Info »
  • Matching School Ads

    Quick School Search

    College & Career Search Tools

    • Careers: Unsure about your career path? Study profiles of hundreds of professions.

    • Interviews: Professors and deans sit down with our team to give you unique insights on college life.

    • Military Education: Find only Military friendly online schools and campuses.

    • Student Reviews: Know before you go. Read student reviews on over 2000 accredited colleges. Write your own experience.