What is the Average Crime Scene Investigators Salary in 2024?

Have you ever wondered about the crime scene investigators salary? How much do crime scene investigators (CSIs) earn in their exciting and unpredictable careers?

In this post, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of CSI salaries, factors that influence their pay, and ways to boost your own income in this specialized field.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Crime Scene Investigators typically earn an average salary of $63,740 per year.

  • Salaries vary based on geographic location and industry, with the highest salaries in states with higher crime rates and cost of living.

  • The job outlook for Crime Scene Investigators is expected to grow by 11% over the next decade, although competition in this field is high.

Crime Scene Investigator Salaries: An Overview

Crime scene investigator examining evidence at a crime scene

The national average salary for crime scene investigators responsible for collecting crime scene evidence is $63,740 per year. However, this figure varies depending on factors such as experience, education, and industry.

For instance, individuals with experience in a related field, like law enforcement officers, may earn a higher salary.

Entry-Level Crime Scene Investigator Salary

If you’re just starting in the field, you can expect a salary range of $34,966 to $50,000 per year. The salary range for entry-level CSIs depends on your educational background and the state you’re working in.

As of 2023, the average salary for entry-level forensic science technicians is estimated to be $67,745 per year, or $32.57 per hour.

Experienced Crime Scene Investigator Salary

With more than ten years of experience, crime scene investigators can earn between $70,000 and $112,428 per year. However, salaries do fluctuate across different states and industries.

The projected average salary for experienced CSIs with a background in criminal justice in 2024 is $51,350.

Geographical Impact on Crime Scene Investigator Salaries

Crime scene investigator collecting evidence at a crime scene

Location plays a significant role in determining a CSI’s salary. Higher salaries can be found in states with high crime rates and a higher cost of living.

We’ll examine the states that offer high and low salaries for crime scene investigators.

High-Paying States for Crime Scene Investigators

States with the highest crime scene investigator salaries include California, New York, and Massachusetts.

In 2023, the top salaries for CSIs are predicted to be in:

  • California

  • Illinois

  • Massachusetts

  • Alaska

  • Virginia

These states typically have higher crime rates and cost of living, which contributes to the higher pay.

Low-Paying States for Crime Scene Investigators

On the other hand, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama are known for having the lowest crime scene investigator salaries. Factors contributing to the lower salaries in these states may include a lack of job opportunities, lower cost of living, or lower wages in general.

Crime Scene Investigator Salaries in Different Industries

Crime scene investigator analyzing evidence in a laboratory

The industry a CSI works in, much like their location, also impacts their salary. The field offers opportunities in law enforcement agencies, government organizations, and private companies, each with its own salary range and advancement potential.

Every industry comes with distinct challenges and rewards, affecting the salary range of a CSI.

Law Enforcement Agencies

For crime scene investigators working for local or state law enforcement agencies, salaries range from $40,000 to $80,000 per year.

The average salary of CSIs in law enforcement agencies is projected to be $51,350 in 2023.

Government Agencies

Federal government agencies, such as the FBI, offer competitive salaries for crime scene investigators, with experienced professionals earning over $100,000 per year.

In 2023, the average salary of CSIs in government agencies is estimated to be $51,350.

Private Companies

Crime scene investigators working for private companies may earn salaries similar to those in law enforcement, depending on the company and the investigator’s experience. Factors such as the size of the company, the investigator’s experience, and the location of the company can also affect pay.

Enhancing Your Crime Scene Investigator Salary

Crime scene investigator testifying in court

Pursuing higher education, obtaining certifications, and honing crucial skills can help to boost your salary as a crime scene investigator, especially when it comes to collecting evidence.

We’ll further dissect each of these strategies.

Pursuing Higher Education

An image of a person in a lab coat analyzing evidence in a crime scene, representing the potential crime scene investigators salary in higher education.

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in forensic science can be a stepping stone toward pursuing a master’s degree in the field, which can lead to higher-paying positions and advancement opportunities.

Specialization and improved employment opportunities in this expanding field can be advantageous.

Acquiring Certifications

Earning certifications from organizations like the International Association for Identification (IAI) can increase your credibility and salary potential. Although certification is not a prerequisite for obtaining a job or a promotion, it can be beneficial in advancing your career.

Certifications demonstrate to employers that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job.

Developing Essential Skills

Improving your communication, problem-solving, and technological skills can lead to better job performance and higher salaries. Strong communication abilities help CSIs work effectively with team members, other professionals, victims, and witnesses.

Robust problem-solving abilities enable CSIs to recognize patterns, think critically, and develop creative solutions to complex issues. Technological skills help CSIs utilize the latest technology to analyze evidence, generate reports, and communicate with other professionals.

Job Outlook for Crime Scene Investigators

Crime scene investigator using technology to analyze evidence

From 2021 to 2031, the crime scene investigation field is projected to witness an 11% growth, according to labor statistics. However, competition in this specialized field is high.

We’ll examine the competitive landscape and job prospects for CSIs.

Competition in the Field

Most crime scene investigators start their careers by facing strong competition for positions, with many beginning as police officers before transitioning to a CSI role.

Competitions and events evaluating proficiency in crime scene investigation processes are held to assess participants’ skills and knowledge in handling crime scenes, including the proper collection and preservation of physical evidence.

Employment Opportunities

Job opportunities for crime scene investigators can be found in various crime scene investigator jobs, including those in law enforcement agencies, government organizations, and private companies, with varying salary ranges and advancement potential.

In 2023, the most attractive career opportunities for CSIs include Crime Scene Investigators, Evidence Technicians, Latent Print Examiners, Forensic Scientists, and Death Investigators.


Based on factors such as experience, location, and industry, crime scene investigator salaries can vary. By pursuing higher education, acquiring certifications, and developing essential skills, you can enhance your career prospects and increase your earning potential. As the field of crime scene investigation continues to grow, seize the opportunity to excel in this challenging and rewarding profession.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest paying CSI job?

A Forensic Investigator, which is a type of CSI, can earn up to $185,500 per year, making it the highest paying CSI job.

Is CSI a good career?

Crime Scene Investigation is a good career choice due to its solid wage potential and challenging but rewarding work. With a median yearly salary of $60,590 and the potential to make more than $100,910 in the top 10%, it offers both an intellectually stimulating career and financial stability.

Is it hard being a crime scene investigator?

Yes, being a crime scene investigator can be difficult, as it often involves spending long hours in uncomfortable or physically demanding conditions. However, the challenges are worth it as it provides great reward and satisfaction when they are able to uncover physical evidence and help solve crimes.

What is the national average salary for crime scene investigators?

The national average salary for crime scene investigators is $63,740 per year.

How does experience affect a crime scene investigator’s salary?

Experience plays a significant role in a crime scene investigator’s salary, with those who have more years of experience typically earning higher pay. Those with more experience are often able to command higher salaries due to their expertise and knowledge. They may also be able to take on more complex cases and have access to better resources. In addition to experience, other

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