Forensic Science Technicians
Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence.
Sample of Reported Job Titles
Crime Scene Technician, Criminalist, Forensic Scientist, Crime Scene Investigator, Evidence Technician, Crime Scene Analyst, Latent Print Examiner, Forensic Science Examiner, Forensic Specialist, Latent Fingerprint Examiner
Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.
Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.
All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.
In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following:
- Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
- Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
- Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
- Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings
Forensic technicians are scientists. Most graduate from a 4-year college with a degree in biology, chemistry or forensic science. They need extensive laboratory experience and may take courses in genetics, biostatistics, and general and organic chemistry. They also must be knowledgeable in physics and math.
- A master’s degree could make you more competitive for jobs in certain jurisdictions. Look for a program that emphasizes laboratory science and research, including interaction with working forensic laboratories. A listing of accredited master’s level degrees in forensic science can be found here
Median Salary 2018
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of a Forensic Science Technician in 2018 was $58,230.
Want to know more?
- American Chemical Society-Forensic Chemistry
- Bureau of Labor Statistics-Forensic Science Technicians
- Explore Health Care Careers
- Education Portal
Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Society for Microbiology
- American Chemical Society
- American Society for Crime Lab Directors
- List of Professional Organizations
Websites for some of the state and federal programs include:
- Central Intelligence Agency Internship Program
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Internship Programs
- United States Department of Justice Internships
*You may also want to check with private forensic labs to see if they have internships available.
Forensic science volunteer programs
When you join a volunteer program, you will not receive any salary or compensation, but you will learn valuable lessons that can be applied to your forensic training. The volunteer programs will likely be related to basic criminal justice or law enforcement, as opposed to actually "practicing" any forensic science. Such programs will, however, give you an introduction to the criminal justice field and acquaint you with some forensic scientists. As a forensic science volunteer, you will also provide valuable help to law enforcement professionals and the community.
To find an opportunity, contact your municipal police department or county sheriff's office and inquire about volunteer programs. They will likely have a program that will provide you with experience as a registration aide, victim assistor, data entry clerk, or another job. Though this work may not be specifically related to forensics, you will gain a valuable introduction to the world of criminal justice.
Forensic science research programs
To join a forensic science research program, you should check with private laboratories and businesses in addition to traditional colleges and universities. There are many options available in the private sector.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Board of Criminalistics
- American Board of Forensic Entomology
- American Board of Forensic Toxicology
- Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners
- Forensic Science Society
- Microscopy Society of America
- Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists
- Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
- Society of Forensic Toxicologists
Find a Job
Information retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics: Forensic Science Technicians.
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