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Forensic Science Technicians picture    Forensic Science Technicians image

Forensic science technicians investigate crimes. They document crimes scenes with photographs and written reports. Forensic science technicians collect, store, test and evaluate evidence. Technicians utilize various types of equipment such as ultraviolet light, microscopes, spectrographs, x-ray machines and infrared photography. They also provide reports which include documentation of their findings and include the laboratory techniques which were utilized. Their findings often help to determine if a defendant is innocent or guilty of a crime.

Sometimes they may offer information and expert opinions to investigators. In addition, forensic science technicians often appear in court to provide expert witness testimony regarding laboratory findings. While in court, they typically identify and classify evidence that was collected at crime scenes.

Many in the profession specialize in different fields, including performing tests on weapons or substances such as fiber, hair or body fluids. Some specialize as crime scene technicians or laboratory technicians. Many technicians specialize in DNA analysis. Document technicians evaluate handwriting and the paper.

Instrument technicians are asked to match the marks located on victims to the tools that may have been used in the crime. Photography technicians are responsible for taking photographs of crime scenes. Fingerprint technicians evaluate fingerprints and footprints and some also analyze tire treads.

Responsibilities

  • Gather evidence at crime scenes
  • Analyze evidence
  • Properly store evidence
  • Determine the relationship among all the evidence
  • Analyze guns
  • Evaluate tool marks
  • Evaluate fingerprints
  • Analyze tire prints
  • Consult with other experts
  • Prepare reports of their findings

Job Characteristics

Technicians must be detailed oriented, precise and methodical. They also need good communication and organizational skills. Regarding their work environment, the laboratories are typically ventilated and clean. Due to being in contact with physical evidence they are sometimes exposed to diseases, fumes and chemicals. They often wear protective and disposable clothing such as paper suits and gloves.

Forensic science technicians work closely with FBI investigators and state and local police. They also work with medical experts and with other forensic science technicians that have a specialty. In addition, sometimes they present their findings in court. They usually work 40 hours a week and are required to be on call.

Employment Outlook

Advancement opportunities are provided by taking civil service examinations. The exams typically require knowledge of the latest techniques in the profession. Some may advance to supervisory jobs.

In 2006, the median hourly earnings for forensic science technicians was $21.79. There were approximately 13,000 forensic science positions in 2006. The employment growth rate for forensic technicians is projected to be much faster than the average for all other types of employment. The increase is primarily due to the growth in usage of forensic science to examine and solve crimes.

Forensic Science Technicians Degrees, Certification, and Licensing

A large number of employers require a bachelor's degree in forensic science or crime technology. The bachelor's degree programs provide training in scientific crime detection, criminal investigation and evidence, investigative photography, fingerprint science, criminal law and court procedures.

The bachelor's degree programs that have received accreditation from the American Academy of Forensic Science typically take five years to complete. Two-year programs are also available but the trend is towards hiring those with bachelor's degrees in the subject. Some colleges offer a master's degree in the topic.

To increase the chances of gaining employment in the profession, some candidates acquire certification in the field. Certification is provided by agencies such as the American Board of Criminalistics and the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry. The American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners also offer certification.

Often forensic science technicians have to pass a background check and a drug test. Also, they cannot have a criminal record or a history of drug use.

Resources

Major Employers

The major employers of forensic science technicians are police departments which contain a crime laboratory. State, local and federal government agencies are also primary employers.

Schools for Forensic Science Technicians are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Forensic Science Technicians

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Forensic Science Technicians jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 140 $49,470
Birmingham 140 $49,470
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 570 $55,910
Mesa 570 $55,910
Phoenix 570 $55,910
Tucson 100 $47,000
Flagstaff 40 $66,030
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 130 $38,540
North Little Rock 130 $38,540
Little Rock 130 $38,540
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 940 $89,570
Long Beach 940 $89,570
Los Angeles 940 $89,570
Hayward 250 $73,600
Oakland 250 $73,600
San Francisco 250 $73,600
Riverside 230 $62,570
Ontario 230 $62,570
San Bernardino 230 $62,570
Carlsbad 130 $74,560
San Diego 130 $74,560
San Jose 100 $75,650
Santa Clara 100 $75,650
Sunnyvale 100 $75,650
Arden 80 $96,960
Arcade 80 $96,960
Sacramento 80 $96,960
Roseville 80 $96,960
Oxnard 60 $94,120
Ventura 60 $94,120
Thousand Oaks 60 $94,120
Fresno 40 $48,400
Bakersfield 40 $54,140
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 210 $61,220
Aurora 210 $61,220
Denver 210 $61,220
Colorado Springs 40 $58,140
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Petersburg 310 $48,220
Tampa 310 $48,220
Clearwater 310 $48,220
Miami 300 $54,370
West Palm Beach 300 $54,370
Fort Lauderdale 300 $54,370
Sanford 270 $42,610
Kissimmee 270 $42,610
Orlando 270 $42,610
Tallahassee 150 $37,620
Jacksonville 110 $42,540
Ferry Pass 90 $39,980
Brent 90 $39,980
Pensacola 90 $39,980
Cape Coral 50 $42,750
Fort Myers 50 $42,750
Lakeland 40 $44,240
Winter Haven 40 $44,240
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 370 $46,510
Sandy Springs 370 $46,510
Atlanta 370 $46,510
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 50 $49,610
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 60 $95,730
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 170 $58,730
Carmel 170 $58,730
Indianapolis 170 $58,730
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Topeka 50 $56,760
Wichita 40 $48,070
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baton Rouge 90 $50,420
Metairie 50 $37,660
New Orleans 50 $37,660
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 250 $55,390
Columbia 250 $55,390
Baltimore 250 $55,390
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 100 $73,990
Dearborn 100 $73,990
Warren 100 $73,990
Wyoming 50 $73,990
Grand Rapids 50 $73,990
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 80 $52,190
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jefferson City 80 N/A
Springfield 40 $56,230
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Missoula 30 $61,910
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 200 $73,950
Henderson 200 $73,950
Las Vegas 200 $73,950
Reno 30 $77,730
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Troy 130 $69,240
Schenectady 130 $69,240
Albany 130 $69,240
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 90 $43,910
Durham 40 $46,480
Chapel Hill 40 $46,480
High Point 30 $40,810
Greensboro 30 $40,810
Fayetteville 30 $43,110
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 140 $60,810
Elyria 70 $52,100
Cleveland 70 $52,100
Akron 70 $60,810
Toledo 30 N/A
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 90 $67,760
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mauldin 40 $45,860
Anderson 40 $45,860
Greenville 40 $45,860
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 260 $41,080
Murfreesboro 260 $41,080
Davidson 260 $41,080
Nashville 260 $41,080
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 260 $50,820
Dallas 260 $50,820
Arlington 260 $50,820
Sugar Land 240 $62,150
The Woodlands 240 $62,150
Houston 240 $62,150
Round Rock 200 $44,910
Austin 200 $44,910
New Braunfels 100 $42,770
San Antonio 100 $42,770
El Paso 40 $40,870
Corpus Christi 30 $36,730
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 100 $48,430
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 110 $60,090
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 220 $69,190
Tacoma 220 $69,190
Seattle 220 $69,190
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 80 $65,160
Waukesha 80 $65,160
Milwaukee 80 $65,160
Madison 40 $44,540

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Forensic Science Technicians

To find out more about building a career as Forensic Science Technicians, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

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Most Popular Industries for :
Forensic Science Technicians

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 10,340 87% $50,360
Professional And Technical Services 490 4% $50,470
Hospital 480 4% $41,530
Office Services And Staffing 210 1% $46,510
Medical Office 200 1% $51,540
Education 130 1% $26,240
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Forensic Science Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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