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Career and Education Opportunities for Forensic Investigators in Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for forensic investigators. About 1,600 people are currently employed as forensic investigators in California. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 44% to about 2,300 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for forensic investigators are expected to grow by about 19.6%. Forensic investigators generally collect, identify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations.

A person working as a forensic investigator can expect to earn about $30 per hour or $63,430 yearly on average in California and about $23 per hour or $49,860 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Compared with people working in the overall category of Life Science Technical, people working as forensic investigators in California earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Life Science Technical nationally. People working as forensic investigators can fill a number of jobs, such as: polygraph operator, criminologist, and fingerprint classifier.

The Sacramento area is home to forty-two schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Sacramento where you can get a degree as a forensic investigator. The most common level of education for forensic investigators is a Bachelor's degree. 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 Sacramento 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

University of California-Davis - Davis, CA

University of California-Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8678. University of California-Davis is a large university located in Davis, California. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 30,270 students and an admission rate of 59%. University of California-Davis has a master's degree program in Forensic Science and Technology which graduated thirteen 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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California
Sacramento, California photo by Urdangaray

Sacramento is located in Sacramento County, California. It has a population of over 463,794, which has grown by 13.9% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Sacramento, 93, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Sacramento are valued at $185,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, nine hundred thirty-four new homes were constructed in Sacramento, down from 1,337 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Sacramento are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is construction, public administration, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 23.9% of Sacramento residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.4%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Sacramento is 14.7%, which is greater than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Sacramento residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 36.9%, is less than both the national and state average. Pearly Gate Missionary Baptist Church, Peace Lutheran Church and Parkview Presbyterian Church are among the churches located in Sacramento. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Assemblies of God.

Sacramento is home to the Southern Pacific Shops and the Bing Maloney Golf Course as well as Alkali Flat North Historic District and Silva Field. Shopping centers in the area include Farmers Center Shopping Center, Florin Square Shopping Center and Franklin and Florin Shopping Center. Visitors to Sacramento can choose from Best Western Sutter House, Best for Less Motel-Cababa Lodge and AAA Residence Inn for temporary stays in the area.