It’s not glamorous and it doesn’t pay well, yet working in the St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory is one of the hottest jobs around St. Louis right now.
Currently, there is one job opening at the crime lab and 134 people applied for it.
“It’s great. We had a great pool of applicants, which is very positive for the crime lab,” said Lisa Campbell, deputy director and quality manager at the St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory. “I do think CSI and all the crime shows have a little to do with that. It was brought up many times in the interviews, how much they like those shows and crime novels and applying their science to the law.”
More than the novelty of the job, hiring managers say their workers are looking for another level of fulfillment.
“The pay is not good. Most people who have job experience somewhere else that are coming in to the field, they are usually from higher paying jobs but looking for what they consider this job to be fulfilling, so they are willing to take a pay cut,” said Campbell.
The starting salary is around $42,000.
Part of that fulfillment comes from having a true impact on crime around St. Louis County. The forensics experts may test DNA from a murder scene, check to see if a weapon used in a crime can actually fire, determine if an accelerant was used in a fire, and confirm what kind of drugs were found in a bust, among other things.
“The goal is to test items of evidence so we can testify in a court of law. It can either help exonerate an individual or help prosecute an individual,” said Campbell.
With that weight on the team’s shoulders, the hiring process is very thorough, as managers look for as much of a personality match as they do educational background and experience. For some positions, the FBI has particular course requirements like genetics, statistics, and bio chemistry. The application process can take six to nine months and includes an extensive background check.
For the new member who makes it through that process, they will work with about 40 others in a state-of-the-art lab. The new $10 million facility opened within the police department’s headquarters in 2013. They get about 7,000 new cases to work on each year, including work for 91 municipalities that surround St. Louis County.
As for future openings, hiring managers say their team members usually stay in place for a long time and they don’t anticipate many upcoming openings unless someone retires.
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