I did enough crime scene processing to know that it is tedious and boring. If you are interested in forensics (as opposed to crime scene processing), a degree in the hard sciences like biology, chemistry, and physics is required; and there are forensic programs available, wherein these sciences are applied to evidence. There are numerous universities offering forensic science degrees. There are also crime scene technician courses available (many through 2-year colleges). Do a web search on those subjects to identify colleges.
Certifications required would depend on specialization. In any good-sized agency, there are specially trained and designated personnel that collect evidence (called criminalists in some jurisdictions), and still others who process that evidence (who may be criminalists or forensic scientists). Some agencies may have forensic personnel that participate in crime scene evidence collection, however, practices vary. The FBI designates Evidence Response Teams within most offices (regular agents and support personnel with relevant training), and processing is conducted at the agency laboratory by forensic scientists and/or qualified personnel.
Police agencies have various methods of employing crime scene personnel (sworn or non-sworn). Some are called criminalists and others may have different titles. Some may be limited to collecting evidence rather than analyzing it. Smaller agencies may employ generalist investigators who may investigate, collect, and process, with complex analysis being forwarded to appropriate forensic laboratories (some of which are private companies).
Forensic examiners (those who apply scientific knowledge to legal problems) include, but are not limited to, psychologists, psychophysiologists, odontologists, entomologists, biologists, anthropologists, chemists, toxicologists, pathologists, geneticists, hypnotists, neurographologists, accountants, and firearms, tool mark, fiber, fingerprint, photography, and questioned document specialists.
Another view of the CSI Effect (TV drama negatively affecting jury deliberations): http://projects.nfstc.org/csieffect/index.html
Is 'CSI' for Real? Paul D. Rosevear
There's no doubt about it: Between the contagiously spreading viewership of 'CSI,' similar spin-offs ruling the remote and exploding enrollments in forensics programs at many colleges and universities, the current crop of on-screen case-crackers are certainly proving inspiring. The field of forensics is certainly entertaining a multitude of people approximately 50 million each week.
But is the line between entertainment and education getting blurred? Read on to explore the difference between forensics and "faux-rensics." …
Data analysis often takes weeks and months. "It's the speed and the specificity more than anything," says Dr. Stephen Theberge, assistant professor of chemistry at Merrimack College (North Andover, Mass.). Theberge teaches a forensic analysis course and offers a forensics concentration for chemistry majors.
"You don't just stick something into a machine and immediately find out it's got Maybelline lipstick on it. … Characters on forensic TV shows often possess the skills of many different kinds of specialists -- it's much more exciting to see the countless aspects of the field crammed into one supercharged investigator. "The investigator position on TV is an amalgam of a police officer/detective and lab scientist. In reality, this position doesn't exist." …
While the forensics you see on television may be enhanced to keep things action-packed, there is plenty of real-life action happening every single day. … A recent graduate of the master's program in forensic science at Nebraska Wesleyan University (Lincoln, Neb.), was called out to Iraq as part of a team … assembled to exhume and analyze human remains from mass graves. The evidence culled will most likely be used in Saddam Hussein's trial.
another one suckered by the television! … first! they got paid like crap. LESS than the crappy $18/hr that i was making as a deputy. they were on call. when a crime would occur that required the "lab" (theyre a mobile lab, i dont care what hollyood says) then these folks (who were always grumpier than hell) would come out with a little tacklebox that was their kit and do their thing.
taking pictures. running a piece of tape across an ENTIRE ROOM FLOOR looking for hairs and crap. spraying stuff so footprints illuminate. dusting for fingerprints (and dusting for prints is a messy pain in the *** lemme tell you.) bagging stuff all over the d**n place! real meticulous dirty work.
i never watched CSI but i can just about guarantee you it is nothing like what a real crime scene investigator does. theyre glorified janitors. they dont even carry guns!