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Career and Education Opportunities for Forensic Investigators in San Francisco, California

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for forensic investigators in the San Francisco, California area. There are currently 1,600 working forensic investigators in California; this should grow 44% to about 2,300 working forensic investigators in the state 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%. Forensic investigators generally collect, identify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations.

The income of a forensic investigator is about $30 hourly or $63,430 per year on average in California. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $23 per hour or $49,860 per year on average. 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: forensic science manager, forensic ballistics expert, and forensic specialist.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of San Francisco where you can study to be a forensic investigator, among eighty-six schools of higher education total in the San Francisco area. 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 San Francisco include:

  • 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.
  • 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

Diablo Valley College - Pleasant Hill, CA

Diablo Valley College, 321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. Diablo Valley College is a large college located in Pleasant Hill, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 19,768 students. Diablo Valley College has a less than one year and a two to four year program in Forensic Science and Technology which graduated four and zero students respectively in 2008.

City College of San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112-1898. City College of San Francisco is a large college located in San Francisco, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 49,897 students. City College of San Francisco has a less than one year and a two to four year program in Forensic Science and Technology which graduated seven and zero students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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: San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California photo by Optigan13

San Francisco is located in San Francisco County, California. It has a population of over 808,976, which has grown by 4.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in San Francisco, 180, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Francisco cost $218,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, fifty-seven new homes were built in San Francisco, up from fifty-five the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in San Francisco are professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 31 minutes. More than 45.0% of San Francisco residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 16.4%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of San Francisco residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 41.8%, is less than both the national and state average. Gold Mountain Monastery, Golden Gate Community Church of the Nazarene and Golden Gate Lutheran Church are among the churches located in San Francisco. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the United Methodist Church.

San Francisco is home to the Pier 88 and the Prayer Book Cross as well as Helen Wills Playground and Music Concourse. Shopping malls in the area include Yerba Buena Square Shopping Center, Fox Plaza Shopping Center and Galleria At Crocker Center Shopping Center. Visitors to San Francisco can choose from Astoria Hotel, A-1 Inn Motel and Best Western Canterbury Hotel for temporary stays in the area.