Education and Training Survey Results

From June 17 to July 15, 2011, ETM conducted an online survey to learn more about the way those in law enforcement, forensic science, and crime scene investigation get their continuing education and training.

Education & Training Survey

From June 17 to July 15, 2011, Evidence Technology Magazine conducted an online survey to learn more about the way those in law enforcement, forensic science, and crime scene investigation get their continuing education and training. Here is a sampling of the information we collected from 632 responses.

THE JOBS of forensic-science and crime-scene personnel hinge upon the level of education and training that they receive. The technology shifts, legal procedures and requirements evolve, and an individual’s job description can even morph from day to day. Increasingly, an emphasis is being placed on keeping up with those changes and maintaining certifications.

Simultaneously, a downturned economy has put a pinch on agencies’ budgets. We wanted to gauge the current state of education and training in the world of law enforcement and forensic science. So along with our June e-mail announcing the availability of the May-June 2011 issue of Evidence Technology Magazine, we invited subscribers to complete a ten-question online survey. A link to the survey was also available on our website. We asked those who responded how they currently receive their training, how they prefer to learn, and how much money they are spending out of pocket on their own education and training needs.

A very general interpretation of the results shows that readers get their information from a variety of sources, with the favored source being professional organization meetings (see Chart 2). Approximately 75% of those who responded said their employer pays for some or all of their education and training expenses (see Chart 3). And more than 21% of readers are spending more than $1,000 each year (including travel costs) on their education.

Even more telling than the numbers, though, were the essay-style responses to the question: “Tell us about your experience, needs, and wants for continuing education and training in law enforcement, crime-scene investigation, and forensic science.”

Here are some of those anonymous responses.

“In my short time with the unit, I have experienced a level of frustration that I thought I would only experience with the raising of my children. [Attempting] to continue the education of myself and my fellow unit mates has been daunting. We have found ourselves (like many others in this field) financing our own training and continue to have supervisor personnel challenge our level of competency on a daily basis... I would like to see standardized annual training that all personnel who are in this field must attend.”

“The best training opportunities occur when groups get together to discuss common problems.”

“There isn’t enough out there for those of us who have gone through the basic training levels. We need continuous training to keep up with new trends and changes.”

“I want to learn more. Unfortunately, as with many departments, we are becoming more cash strapped, and if we can’t find free classes, we might have to agree to be ‘reimbursed’ at a later time—say, the department pays tuition and we would have to pay airfare and hotel. I’m not sure I’m willing to go that route as I have economic concerns of my own—despite my wishing to attend these classes.”

“Training has been impacted the most with the economic downturn and there is definitely a need to get creative with ways to supplement that. Most of our local departments are trying to work together and barter training, since traveling is completely exhausted for most. Online resources are great, but hands-on would be best.”

“Education—no matter how many years of experience [you may have]—needs to continue. We all need to keep up in our expertise.”

Web Exclusives:

"Our training budget is somewhere between the slim and none stage, which is disheartening for those of us who have a heartfelt passion for our profession and want to increase our skill level."

"I believe that most administrators believe ongoing CSI training is not needed, and that it is not a perishable skill... [that] proper training and adequate equipment are not needed. I guess what I am saying is we need to educate our commanders and chiefs regarding CSI if we are to make any headway."

"I just feel that when you stop learning you become stagnant, so go to as much training as possible."

"The lack of funds for training is the biggest problem. I would like to attend more seminars/classes but lack of funds puts my department at the bottom of the list. I am in charge of crime scene and have not attended a homicide investigation class yet. I would rather be overtrained for my job, but so far that hasn't been a problem."

"I manage our department's forensic unit. Not only do I look for continuing education programs for myself, but I look for continuing education opportunities for my unit. I'm constantly on the look for low-cost, maximum-benefit training opportunities."

Who responded to the survey?

Links to the survey were available on the Evidence Technology website, and were sent via e-mail to Digital Edition subscribers. Here is the demographic makeup of the 632 responses:

Level of education
High School or Some College 25%
2- or 4-Year College Degree 51%
Master’s Degree 19%
Doctoral or Professional Degree 5%

Current Employment
Local, County, or State Agency 70%
Federal Agency 3%
University/College 5%
Private Company 8%
Student 3%
Other 11%

What forms of continuing education/training have you participated in over the last 12 months? (Check all that apply)


What methods of education/training do you prefer? (Check all that apply)

Does your employer pay for or reimburse your training/education expenses?

How much do you spend each year (out of pocket) on continuing education and training? (Include travel costs, if applicable.)


Next >

New Books

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Most forensic disciplines attempt to determine the “who” of a crime. But bloodstain pattern analysis focuses on the “what happened” part of a crime. This book is the third edition of Blood-stain Pattern Analysis. The authors explore the topic in depth, explaining what it is, how it is used, and the practical methodologies that are employed to achieve defensible results. It offers practical, common-sense advice and tips for both novices and professionals.