CSI Simplified: Your Visual Guide to Crime Scene Jobs [Infographic]

We’ve all seen crime TV shows—CSI focuses on the cutting-edge techniques used to gather forensic evidence. Law & Order: SVU details the dance between detectives and district attorneys. Body of Proof chronicles the methods one medical examiner uses to determine cause and manner of death.

But how do all those people and professions work together when a real crime occurs?

In order to clearly answer that question, we created this graphic to illustrate who’s who on a crime scene. We also used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 17,000 crime scene jobs posted over the past year.1

The data revealed the most common education requirements for each position as well as a median annual salary for each career.2 It should be noted that both of these factors will vary depending on state-by-state certification policies and the cost of living in a particular location.

Survey the scene below to get a high-level understanding of each of these crime scene jobs. If you’re intrigued at the thought of working on a crime scene, check out our article, How Accurate are Crime Shows on TV? Debunking 7 Common Myths.

Crime Scene Jobs Infographic, described in detail below.

This paragraph is followed by a large infographic entitled “Who’s Who on a Crime Scene? Careers & Qualifications.”

Please note as you discover the roles described that all included salary data represents national average earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Education conditions in your area may vary. The included information comes from Burning-Glass.com and their analysis of 17,432 crime scene job postings, from February 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017.

As we go into the graphic, we see that the top panel shows an active crime scene.

In the center, a person in a blue uniform is assisting another person – presumably handcuffed – into a police car. The text states: Police Sergeant. Supervising patrol officers and leading the efforts of the homicide unit. Typical degree: Bachelor’s degree. Median annual salary: $63,493. Jobs posted in the past year: 301.

On the right, facing a group of civilians on the sidewalk, are two people. The text above them reads: Police Detectives. Obtaining facts and statements from potential witnesses and complainants. Typical degree: Bachelor’s degree. Median annual salary: $60,690. Jobs posted in the past year: 241.

In the foreground of the image, a uniformed officer stands behind yellow caution tape, holding back onlookers. The accompanying text tells us that this is one of the: Police Patrol Officers. Maintaining the integrity of the crime scene by keeping bystanders out. Typical degree: Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree. Median annual salary: $52,467. Jobs posted in the past year: 14,053.

The middle panel shows two people, one kneeling on the ground next to a body, the other standing to the side and taking notes.

The text near the white-coated person kneeling on the ground says: Forensic Science Technician. Collecting, classifying and analyzing physical evidence from the victim and crime scene. Typical degree: Bachelor’s degree. Median annual salary: $58,270. Jobs posted in the past year: 784.

To the right of the person taking notes, we see: Medical Examiner/Forensic Pathologist. Recording the position and condition of the victim and related evidence to determine the cause/manner of death. Typical degree: Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Median annual salary: $68,342. Jobs posted in the past year: 737.

In the final panel at the bottom of the image, we see two people talking, while another takes photos of the chalk outline of a body.

The person on the far left, in a business suit, is labeled as: City/County Attorney. Working with investigators to expedite any necessary search warrants. Typical degree: Master’s degree or law degree (J.D.). Median annual salary: $99,587. Jobs posted in the past year: 377.

Speaking to the man in the business suit is someone in a full uniform. An arrow indicates that this is the Police Chief. Liaising between the investigation and the mayor and city/county attorney. Typical degree: Bachelor’s degree. Median annual salary: $103,587. Jobs posted in the past year: 868.

Finally, we learn that the person with the camera is a Forensic Photographer. Using high-tech cameras, lenses and filters to photograph any materials or impressions that may be used as evidence in a trial. Typical degree: Certificate. Media annual salary: $36,980. Jobs posted in the past year: 91.

It should be noted that the image was created by Rasmussen College – a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefits Corporation – to promote our education programs and to provide general career-related information covering crime scene careers. Rasmussen College does not offer programs to prepare students for every occupation profiled in this infographic. Please see rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of the programs we offer.


1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 17,452 crime scene job postings, February 01, 2016–January 31, 2017).
2Salary data represents national averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in July 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2017.

About the author

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

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This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

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