How Much Do CSI Get Paid

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 3 minute read

Is it possible to make money as a crime scene investigator, CSI, or forensics specialist? The good news is that the median wage for forensic science technicians is significantly higher than the median wage for all occupations combined. It’s impossible to say with certainty how much money a crime scene investigator may anticipate making. 

While some of these characteristics may seem apparent, others – like the state in which you work and your employer’s kind – might have a considerably greater impact than you might imagine.

Reporting salaries for crime scene investigators

The median or midpoint income for crime scene investigators may be used to get a sense of the industry’s overall compensation.

Criminal investigators who work both on the street and in a lab can expect to make an average of $58,230 a year, according to BLS data, which includes those who work at both sites. Crime scene investigators make half as much as the median as the other half.

Taking into account the pay range for a CSI is also a good way to get a sense of how much money you can anticipate making in the role.

The International Crime Scene Investigators Association states that CSI wages drop below $20,000 at the low end of the range, but the BLS shows that they soar over $50,000 for higher earners.

By comparison, the highest-paid forensic scientists earn over $97,200 a year, while the lowest-paid forensic science technicians earn less than $34,600 annually.

Another factor to take into account is the typical wage rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technicians earn an average pay of $62,490 per year, or $30.05 an hour.

The sector where crime scene investigators earn the most

According to the International Crime Scene Investigators Association, location is the most important factor in determining a CSI’s salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certain states pay much higher earnings than others. Illinois has the highest average forensic science technician salary in the US, at $87,660 per year, or $42.14 per hour. 

California, which pays an average wage of $85,280, is not far behind, at $41.00 an hour. The annual median pay in Massachusetts is $79,440. As the last two states, Connecticut and New Hampshire had mean wages of $73,970 and $70,960, respectively.

More than any other state, California has 2,110 forensic science technicians on its payroll. Only 40 forensic science technicians are employed in New Hampshire, one of the highest-paying states. The Granite State joins Wyoming and South Dakota as having the lowest employment rates.

Influencing Factors of CSIs’ Earning Potential

As a forensic science technician, your earnings are significantly influenced by your company’s industry and work environment.

However, if you look at the median pay per industry, you get a different picture from what the BLS recorded for the total median earnings of $58,230 in 2010.

Nearly all forensic science technicians work for local governments, which pay around $58,950 per year as the median wage for all workers.

There is a modest difference in the median salary of forensic science technicians employed by the federal government and those employed by the state government.

Those who work in testing labs, on the other hand, earn an average salary of $48,000 a year. As for medical and diagnostic laboratories, their typical income is barely $40,650.

Aside from your education, experience, and training, the International Crime Scene Investigators Association has a list of characteristics that might affect your salary.

According to the BLS, earning a master’s degree often leads to higher wages in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which include forensic science.

For those in this highly competitive sector, a master’s degree boosts their chances of earning a higher salary and securing the position they want.

There are also ways to earn more money in criminal evidence analysis, such as having specific training in fields such as latent fingerprint examination or ballistics in weapons or toxicology and DNA analysis or working in law enforcement for an extended time.

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