Forensics and Crime Scene Investigator Careers with the FBI’s Evidence Response Team


Evidence Response Teams (ERT) are comprised of the field and laboratory professionals who collect evidence from crime scenes and analyze it using a variety of sophisticated techniques and tools. ERTs are usually comprised of Special Agents, mechanical engineers, forensic specialists, forensic canine operators, as well as management and program analysts.  These specialists are capable of comprehensively evaluating the scene of a criminal or terrorist incident so that every shred of evidence is examined.  The FBI currently operates 141 ERTs with more than 1,100 members through its 56 field offices. Evidence Response Teams have been deployed throughout the world to investigate everything from mass graves, to airplane disasters and bombings.

The Crime Scene Investigation Process

ERTs operate at a number of levels to ensure that each crime scene is exhaustively searched.  The forensic specialist jobs involve collecting visual evidence using traditional and ultraviolet photography, gathering hair and bodily fluid samples, and saving all of the digital information and devices at the scene.  Using advanced forensic techniques that include fingerprint analysis, DNA sequencing, liquid and gas chromatography and digital information recovery, ERT personnel are able to reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the crime.  They then present their information to lead investigators who integrate all available information.

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The primary goal of the FBI ERTs is to establish a solid link between the evidence available and the perpetrators so that apprehension and prosecution result.   In order to effectuate this, ERTs adhere to a strict set of protocols that have been developed over decades of modern forensic work.  These procedures ensure that no outside contamination is introduced, that all laboratory work is conducted according to established procedure and evidence is stored carefully for possible use by investigators on other cases far into the future.

Evidence Response Team Job Description

ERT personnel, including those in forensic jobs, are responsible for performing the following duties:

  • Gather photographic, physical and digital evidence from a crime scene
  • Using the latest technology and methods to analyze evidence
  • Conduct searches surround the immediate crime scene with canine units to discover additional evidence
  • Organize the logistical operations necessary to properly record the disposition of the crime scene as well as collect evidence

Evidence Response Team Salary

ERTs are composed of Special Agents and a variety of forensic specialists.  While Special Agents can receive a pay rating from GS-10 to GS-15, specialists may fall into a broader range of salaries.  These support professionals can enter at the GS-7, GS-9 or GS-11 pay grade and earn a final rating of GS-14 and earn a forensics salary of between $33,979 and $65,375. The variability in entry salaries is attributable to possession of advanced degrees, military rank or law enforcement experience.  In 2012, the salaries associated with these pay grades were

General Schedule Grade
Pay Range
General Schedule 7
$33979-$44176
General Schedule 9
$41563-$54028
General Schedule 10
$45771-$59505
General Schedule 11
$50287-$65371
General Schedule 14
$84697-$110104
General Schedule 15
$99628-$129517

All salaries are also adjusted for cost of living. While Special Agents merit a 25 percent bonus due to their required 50 hour work weeks, specialists may also receive bonuses for hazard, availability and overtime.

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