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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 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 70 $55,770
Birmingham 70 $55,770
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 570 $56,050
Mesa 570 $56,050
Phoenix 570 $56,050
Tucson 120 $47,090
Flagstaff 40 $56,600
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 130 $38,910
North Little Rock 130 $38,910
Little Rock 130 $38,910
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 930 $87,700
Anaheim 930 $87,700
Long Beach 930 $87,700
San Francisco 330 $78,760
Hayward 330 $78,760
Oakland 330 $78,760
Ontario 240 $63,380
Riverside 240 $63,380
San Bernardino 240 $63,380
Carlsbad 150 $76,730
San Diego 150 $76,730
Arcade 110 $88,660
Roseville 110 $88,660
Sacramento 110 $88,660
Arden 110 $88,660
San Jose 90 $73,810
Sunnyvale 90 $73,810
Santa Clara 90 $73,810
Fresno 60 $58,970
Thousand Oaks 60 $93,240
Ventura 60 $93,240
Oxnard 60 $93,240
Lodi 50 $74,640
Stockton 50 $74,640
Bakersfield 40 $53,180
Redding 30 $46,760
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 210 $60,590
Aurora 210 $60,590
Denver 210 $60,590
Colorado Springs 40 $57,020
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 380 $54,720
Miami 380 $54,720
Fort Lauderdale 380 $54,720
St. Petersburg 280 $45,700
Clearwater 280 $45,700
Tampa 280 $45,700
Sanford 220 $44,730
Orlando 220 $44,730
Kissimmee 220 $44,730
Tallahassee 160 $37,290
Jacksonville 110 $42,300
Brent 70 $41,240
Pensacola 70 $41,240
Ferry Pass 70 $41,240
Cape Coral 50 $41,820
Fort Myers 50 $41,820
Lakeland 40 $43,560
Winter Haven 40 $43,560
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 160 $46,330
Sandy Springs 160 $46,330
Atlanta 160 $46,330
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 50 $48,020
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 50 $93,490
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 170 $62,140
Carmel 170 $62,140
Indianapolis 170 $62,140
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Topeka 40 $59,510
Wichita 30 $46,700
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baton Rouge 100 $47,710
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 230 $57,860
Columbia 230 $57,860
Baltimore 230 $57,860
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 70 $72,120
Warren 70 $72,120
Detroit 70 $72,120
Wyoming 60 $57,230
Grand Rapids 60 $57,230
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 90 $52,190
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jefferson City 70 $40,440
Springfield 30 $55,480
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 30 $54,330
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 190 $72,700
Henderson 190 $72,700
Las Vegas 190 $72,700
Reno 30 $77,310
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Troy 130 $69,900
Schenectady 130 $69,900
Albany 130 $69,900
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 80 $42,970
Fayetteville 30 $42,410
Durham 30 $45,320
Chapel Hill 30 $45,320
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 150 $57,390
Akron 70 $61,110
Toledo 30 N/A
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 90 $65,040
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 130 $28,770
Carolina 130 $28,770
San Juan 130 $28,770
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 250 $39,030
Murfreesboro 250 $39,030
Davidson 250 $39,030
Nashville 250 $39,030
Knoxville 50 $46,090
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 260 $48,230
Arlington 260 $48,230
Dallas 260 $48,230
Austin 170 $44,750
Round Rock 170 $44,750
Sugar Land 160 $60,530
Houston 160 $60,530
The Woodlands 160 $60,530
San Antonio 100 $41,800
New Braunfels 100 $41,800
El Paso 40 $39,900
Corpus Christi 30 $35,610
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 120 $50,570
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 100 $65,230
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 210 $67,090
Tacoma 210 $67,090
Seattle 210 $67,090
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Madison 40 $42,280

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.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Forensic Science Technicians

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

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

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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