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Career and Education Opportunities for Forensic Investigators in Tucson, Arizona

For those living in the Tucson, Arizona area, there are many career and education opportunities for forensic investigators. There are currently 460 jobs for forensic investigators in Arizona and this is projected to grow by 28% to about 590 jobs by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for forensic investigators are expected to grow by about 19.6%. In general, forensic investigators collect, identify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations.

The income of a forensic investigator is about $24 hourly or $50,480 yearly on average in Arizona. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $23 per hour or $49,860 yearly on average. Forensic investigators earn more than people working in the category of Life Science Technical generally in Arizona and more than people in the Life Science Technical category nationally. Jobs in this field include: forensic specialist, polygraph operator, and crime scene examiner.

There are twenty-one schools of higher education in the Tucson area, including one within twenty-five miles of Tucson where you can get a degree to start your career as a forensic investigator. Forensic investigators usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become a forensic investigator if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Forensic Investigator

Forensic Investigator video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, forensic investigators collect, identify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations. They also perform tests on weapons or substances, such as fiber, hair, and tissue to determine significance to investigation.

Forensic investigators keep records and ready reports detailing findings and laboratory techniques. They also testify in court about investigative and analytical methods and findings. Equally important, forensic investigators have to take photographs of evidence. They are often called upon to operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus. Finally, forensic investigators talk with ballistics or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation.

Every day, forensic investigators are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to think through problems and come up with general rules. It is also important that they solve different sorts of problems in different ways depending upon circumstances.

It is important for forensic investigators to visit morgues, examine scenes of crimes, or contact other sources to obtain evidence or data to be used in investigations. They are often called upon to collect evidence from crime scenes, storing it in conditions that preserve its integrity. They also use chemicals and other substances to examine latent fingerprint evidence and compare developed prints to those of known persons in databases. They are sometimes expected to ready solutions and sample formulations needed for laboratory work. Somewhat less frequently, forensic investigators are also expected to testify in court about investigative and analytical methods and findings.

Forensic investigators sometimes are asked to identify and quantify drugs and poisons found in biological fluids and tissues and at crime scenes. They also have to be able to examine physical evidence such as hair, fiber, wood or soil residues to obtain data related to its source and composition and decide on types of bullets used in shooting and if fired from a specific weapon. And finally, they sometimes have to train new technicians and other personnel on forensic science techniques.

Like many other jobs, forensic investigators must have exceptional integrity and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Tucson include:

  • Agricultural Technician. Set up and maintain laboratory equipment and collect samples from crops or animals. Prepare specimens and record data to assist scientist in biology or related science experiments.
  • Biological Sciences Technician. Assist biological and medical scientists in laboratories. Set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, monitor experiments, and calculate and record results. May analyze organic substances, such as blood, food, and drugs.
  • Environmental Technician. Perform laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those that affect health. Under direction of an environmental scientist or specialist, may collect samples of gases, soil, and other materials for testing and take corrective actions as assigned.
  • Food Science Technician. Perform standardized qualitative and quantitative tests to determine physical or chemical properties of food or beverage products.
  • Forestry and Wildlife Manager. Compile data pertaining to size, content, and other characteristics of forest tracts, under direction of foresters; train and lead forest workers in forest propagation, fire prevention and suppression. May assist conservation scientists in managing, improving, and protecting rangelands and wildlife habitats, and help provide technical assistance regarding the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Forensic Investigator Training

Pima Community College - Tucson, AZ

Pima Community College, 401 North Bonita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85709-5000. Pima Community College is a large college located in Tucson, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 30,529 students. Pima Community College has a less than one year program in Forensic Science and Technology which graduated eight students in 2008.


Certified Cyber-Crime Expert: High-profile cases of corporate malfeasance and increased attention paid to cybercrime and cyberterrorism have elevated electronic evidence discovery to an indispensable component of any organization's security plan.

For more information, see the E-Business Process Solutions website.

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator: Computer hacking forensic investigation is the process of detecting hacking attacks and properly extracting evidence to report the crime and conduct audits to prevent future attacks.

For more information, see the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants website.

Licensed Penetration Tester: The licensed penetration tester is a program which trains security professionals to analyze the security posture of a network exhaustively and recommend corrective measures authoritatively.

For more information, see the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants website.

Certified Forensic Video Technician: Forensic video analysis is an important science that can have a significant impact on the investigation process.

For more information, see the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association website.


Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona photo by Howcheng

Tucson is situated in Pima County, Arizona. It has a population of over 541,811, which has grown by 11.3% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Tucson, 88, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Tucson are priced at $179,100 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred sixty-five new homes were built in Tucson, down from 1,131 the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Tucson are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 22.9% of Tucson residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Tucson is 9.2%, which is less than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Tucson residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 44.9%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the LDS (Mormon) Church.

Tucson is home to the Arizona Correctional Training Facility and the Silverbell Golf Course as well as Vista del Pueblo Park and Verde Meadows Park. Shopping centers in the area include Gaslight Square Shopping Center, Grant Park Shopping Center and Grant Plaza South Shopping Center. Visitors to Tucson can choose from LA Quinta, Casa Tierra Adobe B & B Inn and Best Western Executive Inn for temporary stays in the area.