Criminal Justice School Info

Crime Scene Investigator Salary

Average Salary & Job Outlook for CSI Positions

CSIAlthough the job of a crime scene investigator is emotionally and physically demanding, it has its advantages. Solving crimes beyond a "shadow of a doubt" would not be possible without the help of CSI's, and those who work in this industry get the satisfaction of knowing they’re contributing to finding justice. While the salary you earn as a crime scene investigator can be a strong motivating factor, many tenured investigators will tell you that the main reason they have stayed in their jobs is because of the sense of fulfillment they get from solving crimes, from petty to heinous ones.

A job that is meaningful and rewarding is important; however, you must also think of professional growth and financial stability when choosing a career. This brings every would-be CSI to the question, "how much does a crime scene investigator make?"

CSI Salary Averages

The salary a CSI can expect to earn varies considerably from one region to another, but generally falls within the range of $33,880 and $95,600, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2017. There are several factors that contribute to what a CSI can expect to earn, including type of employer, level of government they work in (local, state, federal, etc), geographic region, and specializations within the field.

CSI Salary Low Median High
Crime Scene Investigator $33,880 $57,850 $95,600

* data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017)

Local governments are the biggest employers of crime scene investigators, which comes as no surprise considering most work for municipal and county police departments. Nationally, the median salary for CSIs working for local PDs is $58,140, or $29.83 per hour. Those working in the federal executive branch of law enforcement, on the other hand, earn an average of $105,650, which works out to an hourly wage of $50.79. Crime scene investigators working at the state level with highway patrol or state police earn an average of $60,910, or an hourly wage of $29.28.


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States with Top Pay CSI Pay

States with the highest paying CSI Jobs are California, Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians in California earn the highest average annual salary at $82,650, with an hourly wage of $39.73. Illinois is a close second, where the average annual salary is $79,630, or $38.28 an hour. Next in line is Nevada where the average salary is $76,160 or $36.62 an hour. Massachusetts is fourth in the ranking, with crime scene investigator salaries that come in at $75,570 a year, and an hourly wage of $36.33. As the fifth-highest paying state, CSIs in Connecticut earn $74,560 on average, or $35.85 an hour.

Crime Scene Investigator Salaries in Metropolitan Areas

Based on information published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2017, the metropolitan division of Sacramento, California offers forensic science technicians the most attractive salaries in the country, with an average of $92,580. Crime scene investigators in the metro area of Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, weren’t far behind, earning an average of $92,250 a year, while CSIs in the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area of California earned an average of $87,760. On the other side of the country, forensic science technicians in the Washington, DC–Arlington/Alexandria, Virginia area earned $85,470 on average. Those in the greater Chicago area were close behind, earning $82,500 a year as of 2017.

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CSI Job Outlook

Based on projections most recently updated in April 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects strong growth for the foreseeable future, with the number of CSI jobs likely to increase by 17% during the ten-year period between 2016 and 2026. Promotions for crime scene investigators depend largely on experience and expertise, so furthering your education in forensic science and investigations will give you an advantage when it comes to climbing the career ladder and securing a more senior position, and the bigger paychecks that come along with that.

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