Crime Scene Investigator Salary

Average Salary & Job Outlook for CSI Positions


Although 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 contributing to justice. While crime scene investigator salary can be a motivating factor, many tenured investigators will tell you that the main reason they have stayed in their job is because of the sense of fulfillment they get from solving crimes, from petty to heinous ones.

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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 CSI aspirant to the question, “how much does a crime scene investigator make?”

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CSI Salary Averages

A CSI salary varies from one region to another, but it is within the range of $37,960 to $99,980, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This is a wide range and there are several factors that contribute to salary including type of employer, government level (local, state, federal, etc), geographic region, and specializations within the field.

CSI SalaryLowMedianHigh
Crime Scene Investigator$37,960$62,110$99,980

* data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-11)

Among the many industries where CSI’s can be employed, the local government ranks the highest when it comes to providing jobs to crime scene investigators. A crime scene investigator who works for local government can have an annual median salary of $61,230, with a CSI compensation averaging to $29.44 per hour. A crime scene investigator salary in a federal executive branch, on the other hand, averages at $75,390, with an hourly mean wage of $36.25. A crime scene investigator pay in a state government averages at $54,940, with an hourly mean wage of $26.41.


States with Top Pay CSI Pay

States that have the highest paying CSI jobs include the District of Columbia, New Jersey, California, Delaware, and Maryland. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, detectives and criminal investigators in the District of Columbia earns the highest; having an annual mean wage of $94,620, and an hourly mean wage of $45.49. New Jersey follows suit with a crime scene investigator salary averaging at $85,930 and an hourly mean wage of $41.31. Next in line is the State of California with an average salary of $80,140 and an hourly mean wage of $38.53. Delaware is fourth in the ranking, with a crime scene investigator pay that averages at $77,960 annually and an hourly mean wage of $37.48. Maryland, being the fifth highest-paying state, provides a mean annual salary of $77,910 to crime scene investigators.

Crime Scene Investigator Salaries in Metropolitan Areas

Based on the research conducted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the metropolitan division of Oakwood-Fremont-Hayward, California offers the most attractive salary to a detective or a criminal investigator; providing an annual mean wage of $98,460. CSIs from Salinas, California can earn $96,430 annually, while CSIs from the metropolitan division of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria can earn $93,270 annually. Moreover, CSIs working in Edison and Brunswick, New Jersey can earn $93,270 annually, and those who are working in Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura metropolitan area can earn $88,300 annually.

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CSI Job Outlook

In addition, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a 20% increase in CSI employment rate by 2018; which makes the crime investigation job outlook very positive. Promotions for crime scene investigators depend largely on experience and expertise; so, furthering your education as a CSI will give you an advantage in climbing the job ladder and getting a bigger paycheck.